Q: What happens when people leave their regular routine and comfort zone and find themselves far from home, in foreign places and cultures unknown to them?
A: Life. Changing. Stories.
Each week, 22.33 delivers stories of people finding their way in new surroundings. With a combination of travel tales, innovation, empathy, and even survival at times, 22.33 delivers unforgettable first-person stories from people whose lives were changed by international exchange.
New episodes are released every Friday, along with regular bonus episodes. For more information please visit:eca.state.gov/2233
What started as an effort to teach students in her new country (the United States) about life and culture in her old country (Germany) in the 1970’s has now become the longest-running continuous academic exchange between the countries—a program that witnessed the Cold War, the Wall, Reunification, and much more over the years.
When Kayla Huemer traveled to India as a biomedical researcher, she worried about finding a community in the land of contrasts. However, it didn't take too long for her to find her people, join an ultimate frisbee team, and participate in India's first national frisbee tournament.
On this bonus episode of 22.33, we ask Kalina Silverman, founder of Big Talk, to answer questions from her very own Big Talk card game, designed to help facilitate in-depth conversations with friends, family, coworkers, and strangers. All the questions in the deck are universal, open-ended, and meaningful. We put a twist on the old fortune cookie game and simply had Kalina add the words "...on your exchange" to every question. Guess what? It works!
When Kalina Silverman went to study journalism at Northwestern University, she was meeting new people each day, yet still felt a sense of loneliness and superficiality that made her feel isolated and disconnected. So, she tried skipping small talk, and immediately noticed she was making more meaningful connections with her peers. Encouraged by this reaction, she made a video, where she approached strangers and asked them the fist Big Talk question: “What do you want to do before you die?”
How do you mix heartbreaking and hilarious? Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program participant Bilal Khan, from Karachi, Pakistan, tells about his life before, during, and after YES, and the inescapable conclusion is that stories like Bilal's are why we do international exchanges.
This week, understanding systems to help individual people; learning to expand your limits of trust; and using words to understand emotions. Join us on a journey from Virginia to the Dominican Republic, and communicating through imagery and empathy.
What happens when you leave your comfort zone, travel to another country, interact with a different culture, a new language, and unique ways of life? Now let's take that a step further. Imagine you are in a place that many would be very afraid to visit, finding yourself in situations like nothing you've ever experienced. How do you trust yourself to make the right decisions? This week, a Fulbright ETA shares stories of her time in Jordan & Syria. It's an audio journey from Vermont to the Middle East, mainly by taxi and bus and taxi.
As a child, when you thought of America, you thought of the Texas plains and cowboys but, as a teenager, when you first traveled to America, your destination was Alaska. Instead of life in the Wild West, you found yourself in the snow hugging trees, literally hugging trees.
The thriving, multicultural neighborhood that you so love wasn't always that way. When you first arrived, it was a place of fear and violence, and thus sadness. A group of courageous and passionate community leaders, including you, set out to change that. You talked to the neighborhood elders. You listened. You started living and leading by example. One of the driving forces of your actions, then and now, is the vital importance of outdoor spaces, places where people meet, and come together, and share their lives. You are listening to 22..33, a podcast of exchanged stories.
A medley of “Little Nook” concerts and original music heard exclusively over the course of 22.33’s first 49 episodes. Featuring Seth Glier, Carla Canales, Francis Tongpalad, Est Est Est, Begish, Derik Nelson & Family, Tony Memmel & Junious.
What started as a great experiment—a virtual exchange between schools in rural Virginia and Amman, Jordan—ended in a heartwarming face-to-face meeting and lifelong friendships. Moreover, together the students created the “Bottlebot,” a patented tool to help clean the environment.
Over the course of programs in Malaysia and Indonesia, Cheyenne finds out how a city girl copes in the jungle, finds herself unexpectedly managing several boy bands, and discovers the grandparents she didn't know she had.
As Ireland’s Ambassador to the United States, Daniel Mulhall lives and breathes an international lifestyle within an elite group. But it wasn’t always this way. In fact, his first international experience came 40 years earlier, in Kansas City, Missouri, toasting hot dog buns in a local cafe. Yet, without a doubt, Kansas City was the first stop on his road to the foreign service.
This is a study in contrasts: A high school student from tropical Ghana sent to the freezing plains of southern Minnesota, the adjustment from a small village school to a giant U.S. high school, and the surreal scene of being a Muslim sent to live with pig farmers (during Ramadan no less). Our hero not only survived, he thrived.
How better to document local environmental changes than by handing out cameras to local coffee farmers in Uganda? Photographer Tim McDonnell ended up not only getting interesting results, he received back a collection worthy of a gallery show.
Lithuanian Rūta Beinoriūtė threw herself into her expat experience in the United States, both professionally and socially, leaving a positive mark on those whose paths she crossed. A dream come true, you say? For sure--at least in the case of one bizarre recurring dream she's had since childhood...
When Stephen Guice took a teaching assignment and moved his large young family to communist Romania he was sure that it would be difficult—especially for the kids—to go without so many of comforts and products they were used to. What he didn’t anticipate was that, by learning to do more with much less, they would have the time of their lives.
This classically-trained opera soprano is used to performing on the world’s largest stages. But as she travels the world sharing her music as an Arts Envoy, she finds the joy shared between diverse people and cultures is more powerful than standing ovations, and that the place she must sing from is not her diaphragm, but her heart.
As an orphan raised by her grandfather in rural South Africa, but pushed by her brilliant older brother, Lindiwe Matlali beat the odds and went to the best university in Africa. Now, as the leader of Teen Geeks, she is teaching the next generation to become tech-literate coders, simply by using knitting needles.
A special bonus episode for Father’s Day. 15-year-old Meenu Bhooshanan describes her life-changing experience, learning Arabic in Jordan, halfway across the world from her native Alabama—while her father, Sri, talks about how her journey ended up being life-changing for him as well.
Meeting across a table to share a meal brings people together like nothing else. In this episode, an American traces his family’s history on a historical food tour through Syria, and in the process discovers a lot about humanity.
We asked high school exchange students from around the world only one question: “Tell us about a time when you said to yourself, ‘I wish my friends or family back could see me now.’” Their answers will astound you. (Listen to this one with a box of tissues nearby.)
Coming from different musical traditions, playing instruments unknown to each other, this American music trio and audiences in Cambodia and Singapore came together over the love of the sounds created by strings. And once the common language was unlocked, the connections came quick and ran deep. This episode features the music of Harpeth Rising, including two exclusive “little nook” performances.
Sometimes opportunities present themselves in mysterious ways. When many expats evacuated during a time of political turmoil in Indonesia, this Fulbright professor not only stayed, she found herself in the middle of a group of journalists that would help lead the country into the future and, during the course of those intense days, change the trajectory of her life.
Looking up from the foot of a rainforest is overwhelming. Imagine what the world looks like from way up there. Our storyteller today doesn’t have to. He spends his time in the rainforest canopy, researching and communing with creatures whose entire lives are spent without touching the ground.
This U.S. filmmaker wasn't sure how her topical documentaries--one about unconscious bias, another about the gender gap in the tech industry--would play to foreign audiences in dramatically different cultures, but found an even more elemental thread bound them even closer.
What’s it like for Americans living abroad during Ramadan, or international exchange participants in the U.S. during Ramadan? Listen to ECA exchange alumni share their experiences in this bonus episode.
From the deserts of Jordan to the pine forests of Washington State, everything in America should have seemed radically different to this one high school international exchange student. But with his enthusiasm and willingness to try new things, the experience turned out to be a perfect match, right down to playing American football and vying to be Prom king!
The talented sibling trio recount their amazement at hearing their own musical compositions performed for them halfway across the world, while on an ambitious tour that constantly underscored how music can bring people closer together. This episode features original music and an exclusive “little nook” live performance.
She was a perfectionist, successful and with her future mapped out. But traveling alone in Ecuador proved full of unexpected challenges—not least of which was answering the question about what kind of person she was deep down. The longer she was there, the more her life slowed down, until one day she found herself immovably in the present.
Based in South Carolina to teach Arabic to American university students, Salma Oubkkou found herself in the path of a major hurricane—and completely new weather phenomenon to her. Her experiences, including a full school evacuation, turned out to be a dramatic, but effective, way to cure her homesickness.
Wise beyond his years, high school junior Luke Tyson took advantage of a year abroad in India not only to learn Hindi, but to dive deeply into foreign cultural traditions, religion, and the practice of mindfulness—with a little Bollywood thrown in for good measure.
The concept was simple, Award-winning American chef Lenny Russo would go to a small country he knew little about, meet farmers and food producers and transform their ingredients using traditional American techniques. However, what happened when the cameras started rolling was a surreal series of events—and it was Chef Russo who was ultimately transformed.
As more opportunities for women open up in Saudi Arabia, previously unattainable pursuits become not only possible but essential. This week: Three groundbreaking Saudi women soccer coaches and players, whose love for the sport is benefitting countless young girls—and whose imaginations were changed forever after an intense tour to U.S. women’s soccer programs.
Ever wonder how an iconic image comes to be? In this bonus episode, American cowboy, writer, photographer Ryan Bell talks about the challenge of representing Kazakhstan's ancient horse culture with a single image, how he managed it, and how many ways it almost didn't happen.
American cowboy Ryan Bell never imagined that he would find himself riding on the steppe, teaching Russians the art of cattle-wrangling, but once he was there it seemed perfectly natural. Later, when he discovered the ancient horse culture in Kazakhstan he realized that “people of the grass” are kinfolk around the world.
Tired of watching women and girls targeted, kidnapped, and killed in a region of Nigeria controlled by Boko Haram terrorists, Fatima Askira has fearlessly dedicated her life to creating opportunities to educate, train, and empower the females in her community. She has created a network where women can better protect themselves and look to the future with optimism.
When Alaa Mahmooud was 8 years old he saw a picture of his father in front of the U.S. Capital building. He didn’t know what it was at the time, but he knew he wanted to go there someday as well. He did— and his journey to get there— and the path his life has taken— from the shadows of the Egyptian Pyramids to an amusement park in New Jersey— is unforgettable.
Though she grew up in New York City, Amanda Trabulsi never actually felt like she fit in until she landed in Kyrgyzstan, a faraway place that she knew little about. But then, as she looked like the locals, learned the local language, and taught local pop stars, she learned just how American she had been all along.
A Valentine's Day bonus: When Collin Walsh went to Bangladesh to learn the Bengali language, he had several goals in mind, including securing his future career. But of much greater concern was learning the language and culture enough to secure the woman he loved.
Musician Seth Glier traveled to Mongolia, China & Ukraine, connecting with foreign artists and audiences, learning to appreciate new cultural traditions, and learning more about his own country in the process. He performs a couple of songs in our tiny studio and premieres a song recently put together using sounds sampled during his trip.
Will Langford knew that Kenya would be very different than Detroit, but as an African American he never expected to be called a “white man” simply because of his American accent. His memorable enlightenment about race, wealth, and language led others not only to rethink their idea of America, but to help Will find himself as well.
Eaint Thiri Thu never set out to be a human rights activist. She did not like what was happening to minority populations in her country, but it was only when the government pushed to silence her that her anger and stubbornness not to be quieted emerged, along with courage and the sense that what she is meant to do is speak for those without a voice.
Because she was required to do a project during her exchange program in Jordan, Grace Benton volunteered to teach English to Sudanese refugees. What started as a lark (and with her literally falling on her face when she first met her students) led to the creation of a school program that still exists, and a passion for the plight of refugees that continues to color Grace’s life.
Eric Swinn found himself in St. Petersburg, Russia, tasked with teaching English to marginalized students who sometimes didn’t even speak Russian. Describing his regular trips from the city center to the end of the metro line in a barely inhabited village—firmly in the present, but always conscious of Russia’s deep and heavy past.
Xatyswa Maqashalala tells her life story, how a tragic misdiagnosis in her youth, combined with poor health care, led to her permanent disability—and how difficult it was to be young and disabled in a place without any special accommodations. Yet, as the result of all she went through, Xatyswa is determined to help others avoid her fate, and to live with dignity.
Husham Al-Thahabi never set out to be a hero. As he saw more and more orphans and homeless people in his community, he took it upon himself to create a center where needy community members would be cared for and trained for careers. As time went on and the community flourished, an entire village with the name Al-Thahabi stands as a testament to his legacy.
American professional soccer player Joanne Lohman recounts a trip to sub-Saharan Africa as a sports envoy only to learn that her team didn’t own shoes, despite the fact that turf was burning hot. With stories about girl-power, toughness, and teamwork, Lohman returned feeling she gained at least as much as she gave.
Featuring first-person stories of people finding themselves in the middle of a culture that is foreign to them; each week, 22.33 will deliver interesting tales from people who share how they were able to create mutual understanding through cultural exchange.