The Bittersweet Life – Episode 210: CORRESPONDENT

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Another week, another episode of The Bittersweet Life podcast! Our episodes always post late Sunday night in the US and early Monday morning in Europe. We hope that they help you kick off your week...or maybe even inspire you to try something new or, better yet, take off on an adventure each week.

This week's episode {CORRESPONDENT} does not feature yours truly. Instead, my trusty co-host Katy Sewall, a deft interviewer after her many years experience at NPR, found herself in Positano on the Amalfi Coast a couple of months ago. At the Sirenland writers' workshop that is held at the legendary La Sirenuse Hotel every year, she met writer, filmmaker, and former war correspondent, Micheal Maren. Since being a war correspondent is hands-down the most extreme version of being an expat, Katy didn't miss a beat and set up an interview with him on the spot in which he shares his experiences covering conflict across the African continent. They also discuss the trap of expat privilege, the negative effects of foreign aid on developing countries, and the delusions many war correspondents have that they are special enough to survive.

A bit more about Maren:

After a transformative trip to India during college, Michael Maren realized that in order to feel fully alive, he had to go back overseas. He joined the Peace Corps after graduating and a series of chance events led him to Kenya, where he stayed for the next five years, teaching English, Physics, and Swahili at a local secondary school, and he later worked as an aid worker in both Kenya and Somalia. After returning to the States for graduate school, Maren eventually became a war correspondent. From Uganda during the overthrow of Idi Amin in 1979 to Somalia during the height of the Somali Civil War in the early ‘90s, Maren has lived and worked in some of the dangerous places and situations on the planet.

His book The Road to Hell explains how misguided foreign aid, charity, development assistance, and food relief in developing countries have propagated a culture of destructive dependency that damages the local economy and promotes corruption. He also wrote and produced the film A Short History of Decay starring Bryan Greenberg and Linda Lavin, is currently working on a new film, Shriver.

Stream the episode for free here, find us on iTunes here (and hey, why not subscribe while you're at it?), or listen to a preview today's episode on SoundCloud below.