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John Carragee

Stanford, California, United States

Not Accepting Guests

Last login almost 4 years ago

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Overview

  • 52 Positive References3 Neutral
  • Fluent in English, French; learning German, Italian, Russian, Spanish
  • 62, Male
  • Member since 2008
  • father
  • BA Economics and Romance Languages (...
  • From New York, New York
  • Profile 100% complete

About Me

CURRENT MISSION

To learn Russian and create the best possible platform for language exchange

ABOUT ME

For most of my life I have followed languages to interesting places, or vice versa. That was the reason I most recently spent two years in Ukraine.

PHILOSOPHY

"My country is the world, and my religion is to do good."
-- Thomas Paine, a crazy Brit who became an even crazier American.

"We find a delight in the beauty and happiness of children that makes the heart too big for the body."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Homo sum; Humani nihil a me alienum puto.
-- Terrence

Why I'm on Couchsurfing

HOW I PARTICIPATE IN COUCHSURFING

Couch Surfing has quite unexpectedly allowed me to find a new and exciting mission since I resettled in Kiev a year ago. I started with an interest in languages, helping others learn English or French while they helped me learn Russian. That interest has now developed into a passion for language exchange. I want to help people meet, interact and help each other with one of the most basic things we human beings do.

For people here in Ukraine, foreign languages are not a hobby. They are a gateway to the opportunities of life in a wider world -- whether through travel, meeting visitors, working for an international firm, or even emigrating.

After working with a dozen wonderful friends in Kiev on simple language exchange, we decided to build a Web platform to help Couch Surfers meet in nearby conversation groups, with tandem exchange partners, or paid tutors in this big city.

Language Exchange Club Kyiv

We are very excited about what we are building, and delighted to do it with other Couch Surfers.

COUCHSURFING EXPERIENCE

Absolute novice two years ago, but Couch Surfers really transformed my experience of Ukraine over the first five weeks -- a shared couch for one night, beers on a park bench, walks in the parks, meals in all the best Ukrainian fast food restaurants, an introduction to Armenian food, many hours of Russian lessons, and some of the most fascinating dinners of my life with people from 6-8 countries at the same time!

Over the last 18 months I have hosted 15-20 times -- individuals and couples -- and I have really enjoyed it. I also like to invite some visiting Couch Surfers to dinner from time to time, especially when I cannot host them. Most importantly, I continue to make new acquaintances and friends by meeting for coffee and pursuing other interests. Through Couch Surfing I had the chance to help edit a thesis on the role of bishops in 12-13th century Iceland. How else could you get such an opportunity?

Over 95% of my Couch Surf experiences have been positive. But...there are only 24 hours in a day, and today I have decided that I can no longer answer Couch Surfing requests from people whose profiles and requests show no effort to participate in the community. As of today, March 11, 2010 my "Couch Surf requests replied to is 100%."

By declining to answer some requests, I am making more time for people who really want to contribute.

Interests

Literature, languages, theater, business, science, international relations, economic development, behaviorial economics, cognitive science, U.S. constitutional law, evolutionary biology.

Music, Movies & Books

Il nome della rosa
El nombre de la rosa
Der Name der Rose
Le nom de la rose
The Name of the Rose
-- by Umberto Eco.

Maybe in another year I can read Имя Розы.

One Amazing Thing I've Done

When I was twelve years old, racial tensions in the United States were quite high, especially in New York City. One day, the father of one of the black kids in my class invited a bunch of the white kids up to his neighborhood in Harlem to share a lunch of fried chicken. Only when I was older did I realize what an amazing gesture he had made.

Teach, Learn, Share

I teach and have taught French, Spanish and Italian to my children, friends and language exchange partners. In the fall and winter of last year, I taught English, particularly business English. Я очен хочу изучить русский язык.

LanguageExchangeKyiv.ning.com

In the last few months I have also been working with Couch Surf friends on a Web site for people who want to meet face-to-face for language exchange. Very exciting, and inspired by my experience in Kiev with Couch Surf.

Countries I've Visited

Argentina, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Moldova, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe

Countries I've Lived In

China, France, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States

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