Mexico Trek!    JONAH: Interview
When and where were you born? I was born on November 11th, 1974, Armistice Day, in the high hills of West Virginia. Waitville to be exact. There is one stop light in the county and it was over 30 miles away.

Who did you grow up with? I was born into a family of yogurt bootleggers. That's right. My family made a living smuggling and selling yogurt illegally. They owned a couple of dairy cows, and in the hippy spirit of that local West Virginian culture it was clear that health food was the best way to make a living. What was illegal about it? Law dictates that yogurt must be pasteurized before it is sold, but my parents lacked the necessary equipment and resources, and the owner of a Virginia-based health food store named "Eats", our only client, liked the idea of selling homemade goods.

I have one brother, Wes. He's two years and four inches my senior, and is making movies in LA. Kathy, my mother, runs a pre-school in Brooklyn, and David, my father, is the carpenter/builder/engineer/architect of a radio station network in the Western Virginia area.

What do you like to do with your friends? We celebrate good views. In New York City, this means taking the Staten Island ferry to and from Manhattan just to enjoy the skyline. Or, we might take an elevator to the 65th floor of the Rockefeller Center G.E. Tower, home of the famous "Rainbow Room" restaurant, to glimpse the glory of Manhattan from 700 feet up and go down again before we are asked to leave for not being properly dressed.

What things are you afraid of? Taking things for granted. Forgetting to appreciate simple miracles such as the hug of a three-year-old.

What is your favorite book?  One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

What is your favorite movie? Schindler's List, though Dead Poets Society struck a powerful chord within me as well.

What is your advice to young people today? Your life can be limitless. Do more than simply care. Love as much as you can. Live, think, and act beyond your limits. And understand what these words really mean.

What kind of a student were you in school? Gail, the head of my high school, called me "a paragon of virtue." I succeeded in my classes, mostly because I went to a school where we didn't receive grades and we weren't educated in a competitive environment. The best kind of learning happens when you invite it and initiate it yourself.

What are you good at? Inspiring and motivating action in young adults.

What are you not-so good at? Waiting somewhere without a person to talk to, a song to sing, a book to read, or something creative to explore.

Who or what has had an especially strong influence on the direction of your life? In 1990 I was permanently inspired by living a summer at Camp Rising Sun. It's a 70-year-old camp which invites 60 girls and 60 boys from 30 countries of the world to spend eight weeks together in Rhinebeck, NY, to celebrate cultural and ethnic diversity, the spirit of giving, and personal exploration. Since 1990, I have attempted to care and give as much as I can. Along the way, the Internet presented itself as the tool that I should use to empower my work as much as possible.


Monica . Shawn . Silvia


Home | Search | Teacher Zone | Odyssey Info

Sponsored by:  and AFS. Web hosting donated by: LGC.

A project of THE ODYSSEY: World Trek For Service and EducationCopyright The Odyssey. All rights reserved.