The idea of World As One Media began in 2010 when I was an exchange student in Germany. Leaving my native California, I spent 1-year studying with students from all over the world in a small Bavarian town. It was here that my 20-year-old self realized that it doesn't matter what nationality, religion or race someone is because we as people are far more similar than we ever will be different. When I left my international student environment I realized that many people around me no longer shared this same understanding. I knew that most people would never have the unique opportunity to live in a foreign country as I had, so I began to search for a way to transfer this experience to others. I turned to film as my medium of choice and began to film all of my experiences abroad. My self-taught skills developed and in 2015 I was finally ready to embark on the greatest journey of my life: A trip around the entire world to interview people about their lives in their native countries. I captured the essence of life from Siberia to the Middle East, onto Africa, through Europe, into Myanmar and completed a route around the entire globe. The final goal of this project was to capture enough media from all over the world to deliver the positive message that we as people are in this world together as one. Initially the project originated as a 30 country goal but I've now been to more than 70 countries. As a means of simplification, 50 countries will be focused on in the project's resulting eBook, compilation videos and documentary film.
World As One Media First Project Announcement
Eastern Europe Preview
More than 100 pages of travel experiences accompanied with photos and videos to bring the stories to life. Sign up to receive an email when the eBook is released and receive the $4.95 introductory price.
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I initially arrived in Serbia via the capital Belgrade. In Belgrade I heard stories from locals my age who grew up there at the time of the Serbo-Croatian war, the bloodiest conflict on European soil since WWII. My Serbian peers talked about memories as kids of how they could distinguish the different types of bombs being dropped on Belgrade by NATO from their difference in sound. Many of the large building in the city center still remain bombed out as they were in the 90’s. It’s an erie feeling to see a massive office building in the center of Belgrade with half of its lights on and functioning as office space as usual while the second half is abandoned, bombed out and has a large cement segment hanging by some rebar and swaying in the wind. These ruins of war were intentionally left as they were as a memorial to the events 15 years before. In fact, the bombed out buildings have even been wired with spotlights so their horrific scene can be displayed through the night.
Later on, I witnessed those suffering from war and conflict today in the Southern Serbian border town Bujanovac. While in transit to Kosovo I saw for the first time the mass migration of refugees along the Balkan route from Greece up to Western Europe. Bujanovac is geographically positioned as the first city with a bus connection north of the Serbian/Macedonian border. The journey of refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Africa starts with an illegal boat tender from Turkey to Greece. They then walk from Greece to Serbia through Macedonia for 17 days and faced countless conflicts with thieves, firing border guards and the excruciating summer heat along the way.
While at the bus station in Bujanovac I saw a Muslim man who bought shoes to give to those passing through. Five days later, on my return from Kosovo at the same bus station, I saw the same man still there helping his fellow Muslim brothers as much as he could, even when he didn’t have shoes himself. While waiting for my bus I drank a tea at an adjacent kiosk. The Serbian lady working the kiosk had learned some Arabic in order to sell to refugees. She complained that they have been coming for about a year, but only in recent months they have seen a tremendous increase to about 1,000 refugees passing through each day. She complained, but I’m sure she is making a good profit off of these people as they pass through. While sitting there drinking tea, a new swarm of refugees passed by with a dead, exhausted look on their faces, like that of which you see on POWs being marched out by their captives in war films. People of all walks of life, children, families, pregnant women, a man with one leg and crutches bandaged up as evidence of having hobbled an unthinking amount of miles with them, every type of individual you could imagine passed by in this mass of new arrivals. Two of the refugees came over and ordered tea from themselves as well. While the woman behind the kiosk prepared the tea they asked if they could have a small bucket to wash their faces with in the back. She provided them the bucket and while they were out back washing up, I got up and paid for the teas one of the guys had ordered for himself and his friend. When the man returned he was amazed that I did such a thing, but took it slightly offensive as if I thought he wasn’t able to pay for himself. I told him that it was just a small gesture that I could do to help. He explained that he was a lawyer back at home before he was forced to leave Syria or face certain death. It was then that I realized that these refugees were not just migrants, but rather, people with established successful lives back in their home country before forced to leave everything and everyone they had in their only hope for survival. During this short transit in Bujanovac, I also helped a Syrian father with his 4 year-old son buy a bus ticket to Belgrade and then watched from afar as he apportioned off some of his food supplies to his son who received it with a great smile on his face and proceeded to dance around his father who sat against the bus station wall exhausted drinking his Coca-Cola. I couldn't even start to put my self in the shoes of these people around me and the utter hardships they had already faced and still had ahead of them. But yet, the smile on that little boy’s face gave me, and I’m sure his father, hope that things will get better.