Name: Kevin Maes
Where from: Philadelphia and San Francisco
When and where were you born?
I was born in Vietnam. My exact date of birth is unknown but I celebrate June 15th.
Who did you grow up with?
I was adopted by an American family and grew up with my younger sister Marla who was not adopted.
What are you afraid of?
I'm really afraid of not being able to do everything I'd like to in only one lifetime. As far as the World Trek is concerned, I'm mostly afraid of getting sick.
What is your favorite food?
I love all kinds of foods but variety is important. I'm anticipating the challenge of trying many foods that will be new to me during the Trek.
Who or what has had an especially strong influence on the direction of your life?
Although I never realized it while I was growing up, I believe my adoption has had a strong influence on me and how I think about the world. Being adopted means more than just geographic, economic, or social change. For me it has shown that so-called birthrights (or lack thereof) exist neither for individuals nor groups of people. This has fueled my desire to work hard to change the world around me since all people can potentially benefit from positive change regardless of the situation they're born into.
What was a challenging or cool job you've done?
I often acted in industrial films or commercials for extra money during my college years. After graduating, I went to live and work in Paris. I was looking for typical jobs like waiting tables or anything really, when I got cast in an industrial film for the SNCF, the national train system of France. It was filmed in a train station, I played the part of an American tourist, and I had a blast!
Where is your favorite place?
I think that my favorite place to go is to the top of Twin Peaks overlooking San Francisco. Every now and then I look down at the city and the entire Bay Area below, breathe in fresh air, and remind myself of how tiny we all are as individuals, and that perspective allows me to reassess my goals and needs.
What are some really fun things you've done?
I didn't really know what fun was until I experienced San Francisco riding a motorcycle. The city's hills and surrounding beauty make it the perfect place to ride a bike, which is why so many others do too. Of course it's also common to have an accident, which I did (yes, it's dangerous) and I'm taking a break from riding now, but it sure was FUN!
What is your advice to young people today?
I think kids should always be seeking out new things to do that interest them, keeping in mind that finding out what you don't like is just as valuable as knowing what you do. Don't ever view studying as something you do to please others, but instead, think of it as investing time in yourself.