We traveled into San Francisco around dusk, admiring how traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge was all one way, none of it impeding us. I got the opportunity to speak with my US Training Institute roommate, Justin Moore. Justin’s brother, Jared, died in a drunk-driving accident in 2008. My brother, Kevin, was adopted from Korea at infancy and has had a rough upbringing. He dropped out of school when he was seventeen and at the age of twenty-two he suffers from social anxiety. We knew we wanted to discuss the idea of brotherhood and to compare and contrast our experiences.
We stepped into an 8’x8’ steel box set deep in a long hallway inside the Jewish Contemporary Museum. The “room” had two microphones and some recording equipment inside… and that was basically it. After paperwork and introductions to the StoryCorps facilitator, we began. Forty minutes later I felt incredible.
In all honesty we could have had this talk in our dorm room, yet we never had. It was only when placed in an environment that actively encouraged true conversation that we expressed how we really felt. It made me wonder why we are so privy to avoid these types of conversations, how we let our fear of discomfort shield us from forging intimate relationships with one another. Why was it that after only eight days with Justin I was able to discuss matters I hadn’t even considered with some friends from home?
From this experience I gained a deeper understanding of what I want out of my Global Citizen Year journey. I’d like to be able to challenge my own societal fears or notions and to understand that everyone has a story to tell, I just have to be willing to ask. The icing on the cake was on the drive home with the five other fellows and our communications and technology manager Wil Keenan. We all listened to the CD recording of Justin’s and my session that StoryCorps produced for us on-site. Without apparent reason, Wil remarked “I am definitely going to do this. I’m gonna do StoryCorps.” I was intrigued by his interest. I asked him who he would want to interview with, to which he replied “Probably my brother.”