Couchsurfer, Brandon Ferdig with a Couchsurfing event attendee in Brainerd, Minnesota and his book, Life Learned Abroad – Lessons Learned on Humanity from China
“You should try Couchsurfing,” said Brandon’s friend Maggie weeks before taking off for an 8 month stay in Tanzania.
His charter? To work at a village school teaching adolescent students how to use computers for the first time.
One month later, in the quiet, agricultural village in central Tanzania, Brandon found himself hungry for more human interaction.
Brandon says “I wasn’t sure about this idea to impose in people’s homes, however. And oddly, I also thought Couchsurfing would hinder my chance to meet people, as I assumed it less social than a hostel.”
By the end of his 8 months working at the village school, he signed up at Couchsurfing.
Brandon tells us, “From Arusha to Zanzibar, I enjoyed the hospitality, local insights, and worldly perspectives from hosts from Slovenia, Cambodia, Chile, and Holland. Later, I enjoyed native hosts in Kampala, Uganda and Nairobi, Kenya, getting to know each and learning about their lives, enjoying parts of their cities I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, and having powerful experience like teaching at a host’s school in the slums of Nairobi (see below).”
Brandon teaching at his Couchsurfing hosts school
Doug Monene, Brandon’s host, showing him how it’s done
“I had moved to East Africa to teach, experience their world, and then write about my experiences and insights/observations. And because of that, this network of travelers and hospitable, inquisitive, global-minded people was a perfect fit,” remembers Brandon.
After returning to Minnesota, Brandon arranged a book tour for his book Life Learned Abroad: Lessons on Humanity from China, a collection of stories and essays from a year living in and exploring China.
For these tour stops, he needed lodging and to build an audience.
Brandon decided to reach out to Couchsurfers, thinking they would also enjoy his presentation, thoughts, and ideas. Besides searching for a couch, Brandon also arranged Couchsurfing events in all six stops on his tour.
The Couchsurfing community proved to be mutually beneficial!
Brandon shows gratitude for the community “Just like when abroad, I got a lot more than a couch from Couchsurfing.”
And he describes the people and serendipity he experienced along the way “A middle-aged nurse with a love of Norway awaited me in Duluth. A retired travel executive embarking on a post-career in woodworking hosted me in Brainerd. “
One of Brandon’s Couchsurfing event attendees in Duluth was Beth who, too, had been to Tanzania-20 times(!) for mission work
Brandon’s final thoughts on Couchsurfing:
…the richness and vastness of the community that Couchsurfing has tapped into shapes travelers and those passionate about new experiences, the lives of others, and knowledge about their world.
Are you working on an interesting project and using Couchsurfing on your journey? Have you had a life changing experience on Couchsurfing? Tell us your story and you might just end up on our blog!