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The New York Times Travel Show
Friday January 25 to Sunday January 27, 2019, is the New York Times Travel Show at the Javits Convention Center in New York City on the West Side Highway. This is the most important travel show in North America for the industry. I will moderate the Middle East panel on Friday January 25 from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm. I will also be there other days, so if you plan to be there, give a shout!
Lingnan is a small liberal arts university that lets me immerse myself in Hong Kong's literary community, which has been a fascinating experience. I am teaching a class called Arts, Creative Writing & Journalism: Writing Across Genres, where I am able to use my skills as a writer in a variety of genres, to teach English language writing as a second language to students who are Hong Kong Chinese, Mainland Chinese, children of immigrants, and exchange students from across the world. It has been an incredible learning experience, and a way to spend more time in Asia.
I will be here next semester, teaching the same course, as well as a new one calledJournalism Principles & Social Media, which will be a more hands on journalism course, taught at a very interesting time in Hong Kong, considering the issues for journalists and free speech here now. It will involve investigative journalism, photo journalism, travel and other journalism concepts, along with social media training.
I gave my official Writer-in-Residence end of year speech earlier this month at the Lingnan University Library, explaining my journey as a writer and journalist to students and faculty. The talk covered childhood, college, my freelancing beginnings and novel writing, to my time in Ground Zero on a cleanup crew which vastly transformed my life, to traveling to cover war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, to meeting famous people around the world, from Pope Francis to Donald Trump. It was a journey through 100 countries and all seven continents.
The goal was to make real and demystify the process of becoming a writer for students. Too often the process is esoteric, and the real hard work and heartbreak behind it is often ignored by writers in their speeches to university students. That was far from my objective with this speech.
Lingnan University, originally founded in Guangzhou in Mainland China in 1888 by American missionaries (as many of China's universities were), has a fascinating history - which I call "fighting to teach." Over the decades, the professors here have had to continue teaching their students under the most difficult circumstances, from the collapse of the Qing Dynasty, through civil war and invasion during World War II, to vast transformation under communism in 1949, to fleeing Mainland China and persecution during the Cultural Revolution to reestablish in Hong Kong. It is an honor to teach at an institution that has struggled to always teach no matter the circumstances. This experience at Lingnan is vastly different from anything we have in the United States even if its origins were American.
Our original Mainland campus is now known as Sun Yat-sen University, named for the famous Chinese revolutionary. I was able to speak there at China's first academic conference on using English language creative writing as a learning tool for non-native speakers, held in November, giving a talk together with my Lingnan program director called "Alive in Writing."
Expect plenty more updates from Hong Kong in the coming year - with some exciting surprises - and if you are in Hong Kong - please come visit me!
Shanghai Photo Lecture at Queens Public Library, Flushing, Queens, New York
Monday, January 28, 2019 - 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Flushing Queens Public Library, New York 41-17 Main Street Flushing, NY 11355
*IRC Conference Room*
Just after the New York Times Travel Show in late January, I will also head to Queens to speak and show images from my semester in Shanghai. The talk is called Seeing the World's Largest City: Shanghai, China. This lecture touches on the dynamic youth of today's China and the neighborhoods of Shanghai from the former French Concession to the Art-Deco Bund to Hongkou's Jewish Ghetto to the soaring skyscrapers of the Pudong District along with what it's like to be in Shanghai for Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival.
I frequently speak on a global basis on a variety of topics at universities, libraries and other institutions.
If you'd like to book me for a speaking engagement on travel, LGBT issues, human rights, travel writing, war and conflict and other topics, including many geographic regions of the world, any of my 16 books which are primarily on travel, as well as my novel The Voyeur, please send me a note at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Having been teaching much of the past year, I have fewer articles being published and in the pipeline. There are still a few more to come out in the new year, but among my recent pieces was one on Armenia, for Fodor's, based on my 2015-2016 visit. This was my first time writing for them.