Faces from the road

Syrian and Iraqi refugees, educators in the townships of Johannesburg, Buddhists in Siberia, a 95-year old Burmese WWII veteran, a former Yugoslavian ambassador, soldiers in Ukraine, students in Israel, teachers in France, a woman biking across Africa and a man hitchhiking around the world are just some of the people encountered on the World As One Media project. Each and everyone of them enriched not only my travel experience, but also my life. Their magnificent stories will be continued to be told and shared with the rest of the world here:

East Rand School of Arts, Daveyton, South Africa

East Rand School of Arts, Daveyton, South Africa

Matt Whitaker

I met Matt while serving my Fulbright post in Polotsk, Belarus. Matt’s the drummer for the band Acidic, which was selected by American Music Abroad to travel through the Russian speaking world holding concerts and music sessions to increase mutual understanding with locals through music. One of their stops was in my Belarusian city Polotsk. It was, in the history of the oldest city in Belarus, the first time that five native Californians were present at one time. Acidic played a beautiful acoustic session at the city library and then rocked out on the electric guitars that evening at the university performance hall. It wasn’t until the after show dinner at a local Belarusian cafe though that I truly got to discover what amazing guys all of the Acidic band members were. It was here that Matt shared his story of having been diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 4. He underwent chemotherapy for 3 years and at the age of 7 he was in remission. Matt’s story touched my heart and it is evident in the way he interacts with other people and lives his life that he knows how fragile and precious life really is.

I later reunited with Matt and the rest of the Acidic guys in both Minsk and Riga. After our last reunion in Riga I gave them my Californian flag—the same flag that traveled on my back around the entire world. They took it with their band on to Tbilisi, Georgia and back home to California where it’s still waiting for me when we meet again. When we parted ways, Matt left me with one of the greatest compliments I have ever received. He said, “David, when the Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man in the World” dies, you, my friend, will take his role.” I can only hope that when Matt reads this he will know how much his story of beating leukemia as a child inspires all of those he comes in contact with to live their lives to the fullest.