Category Archive: better conversations

What Covid did to Travel: the Good, the Bad, and the Better

English teachers call it a “feedback sandwich.” A discouraged learner might disengage, so you wrap the hard part between two tastier layers. At the end of the first tourism year after two rough… Continue reading

Answering Questions in Kazakhstan

After the mountains of Kyrgyzstan, the grasslands of Kazakhstan felt like another world. Snow and stone were remote memories, replaced by a deep vista of rolling hills and stretched plains painted with Van… Continue reading

Is it safe to go to Europe right now?

To be honest, the war in Ukraine is straining my higher principles of unity, human brotherhood, and tolerance. The reptilian part of me wants to see Moscow become a smoldering ruin. It’s just… Continue reading

Ukraine and What to Do About It

My friend in Kiev sounds exhausted. Her family lost everything when Russia invaded the Donbas, and she was just getting back on her feet when this current round of menace began. “Just a… Continue reading

My neighborhood tonight

The signs appeared about a month ago on a corner near where I live. The work of local artists, each page had the face of someone killed by police, and their name. It… Continue reading

Where to start with the New Zealand shooting

When I woke to the horrible story of the shooting in New Zealand this morning, there was a flash of sorrow for the human tragedy.   Then I read more news, including the… Continue reading

Reassured in Dharamsala

When a Buddhist monk in Myanmar sprawled out over several seats in the train, or one on the bus in Malaysia blasted a radio no one else wanted to hear, or a third… Continue reading

Scared to go to Turkey

The walls were solid and strong, despite the detritus of old neglect in the corners, the spray painted confusion, and the sense of old cigarettes. And everywhere, the kind of shadows you’re supposed… Continue reading

Would you rather…feel good?

The playground game was simple. Ask “Would you rather…” followed by two options, probably one that’s physically unlikely and one that’s gastronomically inadvisable. Both options were reliably horrendous. It was a “choose your… Continue reading

How do we talk about this?

The woman had clearly had enough. She scanned our groceries with aggressive speed, and manifested stunning levels of boredom, irritation, and scorn when it came time to pronounce our total. In the parlance… Continue reading