- When I first started the college search, I immediately ruled out Middlebury College, because Vermont is just too damn cold. But then I remembered that I hoped to spend my junior year in Siberia, so excluding Vermont due to climate seemed kind of ridiculous. It was, and I went to Middlebury-- one of the best moves I ever made. However, as much as I liked Middlebury, what I liked most about the place was that it enabled me to leave-- to go somewhere else and see new things-- and so I did. Out of the four years I was supposedly a Midd student, I was only on campus 2 1/2 years. The rest of my education happened elsewhere.
For two weeks, Robert and I toured this fantastic country, ending each day with a relieved sigh, "Thank God we didn't die!" It was just that exciting. From the snow-covered peak of Chimborazo--where I got terrible altitude sickness--to the beaches at Esmeraldas, all in one day. I know of no other place where you can travel through such a variety of climate, terrain, and ecosystems. Add to that the wonderful colors worn by the Quechuan speaking natives and the warm hearts of the Ecuadorians, and this was undoubtedly the most fun I've ever had in such a short time.
After our excursion up the mountain, we drove toward sea level (and air) and stopped off at a dining establishment to try the local delicacy, cui. "I'll cut 'em up in quarters like I do for my children!" said the owner with a toothy grin. What did I think of the rodents on a spit? "Greasy, but mmmm good!"
Tomsk is a small city in central Siberia, just north of Novosibirsk. I spent my Junior Year Abroad there, so I have a special fondness for the place. On a program sponsored by the American Collegiate Consortium, I had the honor of studying at Tomsk State University. Even though I was the only American, I was never alone. I was always in the company of friends, like my roommate Sasha (shown here) and many others. If you ever find yourself in Siberia--as so many of us often do-- be sure to check out this charmingly traditional Siberian city, Tomsk.
"Hello, Mom?" "I'm going to Georgia!" -- "No, not the state. Don't be ridiculous!" That's how the conversation went when I finally got the chance to move once again. It had been a year (almost to the day) since I last returned to the US, and I wanted out. Georgia seemed like a good start. I'd never been there before--that's usually a plus, I already knew a few Georgian songs and I'd heard the wine is great. Actually, there was a very serious side to it. I was working for ISAR in Washington, DC, and they had just received funding for a project to expand NGO development training to the regions outside of Tbilisi. They were looking for a young, energetic and enthusiastic psycho, and I was just the man for the job. Two weeks later, I was on a plane to Georgia. A marvelous country! I spent four months in the country of warmth and wine, and I'm still trying to remember all that happened.
I spent the past year working for IREX as a part of the US-Eurasia Internet Access and Training Program, working with local institutions in Ekaterinburg* and other cities of the Ural region to expand public access to the Internet. The success of the project speaks for itself; if you're interested in local progress, please visit our web-sites in Ekaterinburg or Chelyabinsk; and if you're in the area, stop by! For a more personal look at my life in E-burg, you can check out my homepage there. The success was due to a lot of hard work (and the occasional good time with friends), which is one reason why this site has not been updated as frequently as I would have liked.
*Ekaterinburg is often spelled with a "Y" and in Soviet times was known as "Sverdlovsk"
Now, I'm in the Big Apple, back at the place of my birth-- amazing how the world turns. I'm a student at Columbia University pursuing a joint degree at the School of International Affairs (SIPA) and the Law School. That means that in another two + years, I can add J.D./M.I.A. to my name (which will make me a lawyer missing in action).
Apart from boring first year law school stuff, I've been studying Human Rights, paying particular attention to recent developments in Russia regarding Religious Freedom. There's been a lot of talk about the "Religion Law" passed by the Duma, but precious little serious analysis of the law itself. So, this is a small effort to rectify that situation. So far I've included the original Russian version of the "Federal Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Associations" (a Russian document in Windows cyrillic fonts). If you prefer an RTF document, click here. For non-Russian readers, check out my edit: "Russian Religion Law, a brief analysis", complete with relevant articles of the RF Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is an unofficial document, so for a fuller treatment of the issues, please see the Institute for Religion and Law, where I was working last summer, and check back soon to see if I've been inspired to add any more documents. Maybe this will eventually be a page about a bit more than just ME.
Thanks for visiting my homepage. I hope you liked it. By the way, your visit makes you hit number
Please feel free to write me with any comments or suggestions.