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Zack and Scott on the eve of their departure from California. Next stop, the tip of Alaska.





INSPIRATION: Zack Hill and Tip to Tip

This month two guys in their thirties are taking off on the untimate road trip: from the tip of Alaska to the tip of Argentina, and they want to take you with them.

Through their web site, www.tiptotiptrip.com, Zachary Hill and his friend Scott Cherry promise to share video clips, photos and stories about their life on the road and the people they meet along the way.

I talked to Zack a few days before his departure on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.


LIZ: Briefly, what is Tip to Tip?

ZH: Tip to Tip is an exploration of Pacific Coast culture, starting in Alaska and ending up in Argentina. We’ll be reporting what’s going on in the coastal part of the Americas. It’s “culture as we find it,” with an emphasis on the culture of youth as our focus. Whatever we run into, whatever we find.

LIZ: Why the focus on youth?

ZH: As a traveler, I’ve always really connected with the young people that I meet. Maybe that’s because my personality tends to revert back to childhood and I’m rather immature in some respects [laughs], but I’ve always felt that the youth I’ve met have been the most honest and the best representation of their country. I mean, they may not be the most politically aware, but they know what’s going on, and they’ll tell you.

I’ve learned so much from youth. If you’re speaking to them in their own language and you say something wrong, they’re going to correct you, whereas if you say something wrong to an adult they’ll just let it fly.

That’s a lot of what this project is about: trying to find out what the youth can teach us, about ourselves and about the current state of our world. They’re the future, they’re the ones that we have to be, I don’t want to say worried about, but the ones that we have to be educating, so they can make this world a better place to live for the next generation.


"The youth I've met have been the most honest and the best representation of their country..." Zack teaching English to high school students in El Salvador.  

LIZ: How long will this trip take you?

ZH: We’re hoping it will be no more than eight months… we start in August, we plan to get through Argentina and be home by the 15th of April, 2004.

LIZ: What’s the purpose of your trip?

ZH: Part of the reason that we want to do this trip, as Americans, is to counter the stereotype that Americans tend to be very unaware of and uninterested in what’s going on in the rest of the world.

We also want to show people, especially kids, that travel is an opportunity to learn, it’s such a unique form of education.


LIZ: How were you able to arrange your life to accommodate this?

ZH: It’s been difficult… I’m a teacher, I work in after school programs and I also do construction. I’ve been working really hard, and saving up. I’ve taken time off from my work--I’m basically leaving my job, hoping I can come back to it. We’re both borrowing a lot of money to do this, to buy camera equipment and to pay for travel.

It’s also difficult, leaving people on hold--leaving a girlfriend and other loved ones here, and who knows if they’ll be around when we come back, but we’re hoping so.

So it’s been hard, it’s been a lot of sacrifices, but I think it’ll pay off in the end, that we'll be able to create something meaningful.

LIZ: What do you hope to discover along the way?

ZH: If we could come up with ten really awesome groups of people to do in-depth profiles on, and really get a feel for what they’re doing in their part of the world, that would be ideal. If we did 20, that would be better, if we only come up with five, then that’s what we come up with.

But basically, we hope to get a “fly on the wall perspective” of what people are doing--if we could capture them and their way of living and then be able to show that to other people, that would be the ultimate, I think, for us.


LIZ: What do you hope other people will get from this experience?

ZH: A different perspective on what’s going on in the Americas. Obviously we’ll definitely involve politics, but I would love for a kid to be able to log on to our site or watch our film and come away thinking, “Wow, kids in El Salvador aren’t that different from me.”

We want them get a feel for what people in other countries are doing, what are their challenges, what makes them happy, etc. Also we hope to get a feel for what people in the southern countries think of a typical North American or a typical person that lives in Canada.

We want to break down stereotypes--there are a lot of people who speak Spanish and have dark skin and they’re not all Mexicans. To show that there are a lot of different people in this world, we have a lot of different neighbors, and we need to embrace our similarities and respect our differences.

(continued on page 2)



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