Wurstfest: German Food and Texas Fun

Wurstfest, 2008

Marketplatz, Wurstfest, New Braunfels, Texas, 2008

Wurstfest is the Texas version of Oktoberfest that is held in New Braunfels, Texas each year during the first week of November. Olga, Asya, Irina, and Kate all attended the festival with us. It’s a fun place for an exchange student to absorb a little Texas culture. The two Muslim girls did not attend because Continue reading


Where Do Exchange Students Come From?


And where do they go?

This graphic appeared in National Geographic Magazine. I think it’s a great graphic not only for the information, but how it is  presented. It also has a short article attached that addresses the needs of Muslim students among other things.

Seeing Ghana listed sent me to do some internet research and I found that Continue reading

Along Petrovka Street

Moscow Museum of Contemporary Art, Russian Federation, 2008

Moscow Museum of Contemporary Art, Russian Federation, 2008

Old Russia is juxtaposed against the modern on Moscow’s Petrovka Street, just a couple of blocks away from Pushkin Square, and a few steps away from some of the swankiest restaurants in Moscow. Continue reading

The Aurora

Kate and the Aurora, St. Petersburg, Russian Federation, 2008

Kate and the Aurora, St. Petersburg, Russian Federation, 2008

Docked along the river Neva in St. Petersburg, Russia is the the Russian cruiser Aurora. Someone unfamiliar with Russian history might dismiss it as just an old boat that has been put on display. Those who know a bit of Russian history will recognize it as an important part of the story of the October Revolution of 1917. The Aurora was a required stop for Kate who needed a picture for her uncle, an avowed communist. Continue reading

YES Program


Norma, Texas, 2007

The YES program was established following 9/11 to foster understanding between the United States and the Muslim World.

My wife and I have hosted two YES students. In our small community, experience with Muslim countries is most often a relative who has been deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Norma and Shadi were excellent ambassadors for their countries and their religion. They brought a higher understanding to our small town, especially to the young people at the high school. There is no question our YES students had a positive impact on their school and the larger community. Continue reading

Azerbaijian Hospitality

Rostov, Russian Federation, 2008

Rostov, Russian Federation, 2008

During our tour of the Golden Ring of Russia, after we had toured Rostov the Great, Olga, Pavel, and I were guests at her uncle’s home in Rostov. In this parting photograph is Pavel, Olga’s uncle Nabi, her aunt Elya, Kamila, who is married to one of Olga’s cousins, and Olga. Olga, our first exchange daughter, is half-Azerbaijan from her father’s side of the family and her father is Muslim. Her mother is Russian and Russian-Orthodox. Olga was raised in the Russian-Orthodox church. Continue reading

Dogs and Russians

Random Dog, Petrodvorets, Russian Federation, 2008

Random Dog, Petrodvorets, Russian Federation, 2008

Russians love dogs. I wrote about Muslims being wary of dogs. Not so the Russians. We found this dog taking care of business on the grounds of Petrodvorets, here chasing a squirrel up a tree, later getting his stomach rubbed by a pair of small children. Continue reading