Dajia hao. You'll find that a lot of stories on this site relate to China; that's because I've spent long stretches in Shanghai and Taipei, roaming back alleys and night markets, studying Mandarin, and generally trying to understand the culture better by writing about it. I taught English in Shanghai in 2002, then skipped across the Taiwan Strait in 2006-07 to study under a Fulbright Fellowship. I miss the temples, the hiking and, above all, the Taiwanese, whose affection for Americans I have yet to see equalled elsewhere (OK, the Irish like us, too, but it's neck-and-neck).
My articles and essays have appeared in Time, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, Plenty, The Los Angeles Times and other venues. I'm also a contributing editor for the Travel Channel's World Hum, where I write my own blog on Asia culture and travel, Points East. An op-ed I wrote for The Washington Post recently won an award from the North American Travel Journalists Association.
That's the fun stuff. I've also got a day job, as a communications consultant to think tanks, associations, government agencies and global health projects. Since the mid-90s, work has taken me to some unlikely spots, including Haiti, Burkina Faso and Uzbekistan.
I grew up just outside Washington, D.C., and have spent most of my adult life in D.C. proper. I hold a B.A. from the University of Michigan, an M.A. in journalism from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and survived nine months of traditional Chinese characters at National Taiwan Normal University.
2008 was a good year, travel-wise. I attended Taiwan's "Double Ten" celebration, snaked through checkpoints in the West Bank, threw back a few pints in Dublin, and survived a bizarre tornado warning at Chicago's Wrigley Field (first in living memory, says my Chicago-born brother-in-law).
There's a lot of Asia I still need to see, but Xinjiang, China, is currently number one on my list. I imagine it to be the most exotic place on earth.