The Story

Following your dreams can be tough. Sometimes you feel like you’re wasting your time. Sometimes you fail. Sometimes you just get so discouraged and down that you feel like things are never going to work out. But if you stick with it and give it your all, at the very least you’ll be able to look yourself in the mirror and know you tried. I can’t say for sure if this project will be a success, but after years of dreaming and planning and trying and failing, I finally feel like I’ve found my niche… and I’m going to try again.

We’re just getting started and yet I already feel like I’ve succeeded. I’m going to ride this one to the end and win, lose, or draw, I think the journey will make for an interesting tale to tell. So, periodically, whenever the mood strikes me, or whenever something of significance happens along the way, I’m going to write it down and add to The Story.

Brent Carter
February 25, 2005

Episode 1

February 22, 2005, 7:45 PM

From my home/office in Silver Spring, MD

When I got home from work today, there was an email in my inbox from the contact form on I looked at it a little surprised, wondering if it was for real. I’d already received my first contact through the site, but that was from my Mom, and she’d told me it was coming. Don’t get me wrong, the note from my Mom was very nice and made me really happy and proud of the site we’ve built so far. But I’d specifically told her about the site, and of course I’m her son so I wasn’t surprised to get nice, encouraging feedback from her. It was just another kind example of my parents’ ongoing, undying support.

But this was a new and unexpected message, and I was pretty sure it was real at this point, having stared at it for quite a few seconds. I clicked it to reveal an incredibly nice note from a woman in Canada who had found the site and was moved enough to write. As I read her words, I could feel the genuine kindness of this person who had also been touched by her experiences in Japan.

I walked into the kitchen to tell my girlfriend Pea about the note, and as I arrived I realized what a huge smile I had plastered across my face. I’ve just worked so hard on so many different projects over the years, never really achieving the success I’d hoped for, and this note somehow felt like a milestone in this project’s success. Pea gave me a hug, and as I stood there with her I felt a few tears creep out. Never in my life have I felt this way about my work. Tears of joy… for work? Who knew!

Well, needless to say, this doesn’t really feel like work to me (actually sometimes it does). If only I could do this full time, I’d just be one of the luckiest people alive. Maybe that is why this feeling hit me so strong. Because right now, today, I know in my gut this project is going to make it, and someday it may just turn out to be my life’s work.

I’m also so happy today because I know there are thousands of other people like this woman, like me, who just love to learn and experience new things and who want to do great things, share their passion with the world, and find a connection with other similar souls. I hope that we’re building a place that will foster those very things. I know I’ve already found a few such people in the early contributors to this project, and am excited at the prospect of the many more we hope to reach. This is a great day in the story, one that I won’t soon forget.

Episode 2

April 25, 2005, 11:55 PM

From my home/office in Silver Spring, MD

Ok, here is installment number two. Again, it was prompted by a message I got through the contact form. I’ve been wondering for the last couple months if we’d been getting any “real” traffic on the site (i.e. from search engines) as I know a substantial portion of our traffic to this point has been from job ads we’ve posted looking for contributors to the site.

But I got a great one yesterday. It was from a person who is currently living abroad. He had been reminiscing about his homestay experience some 14 years earlier. I guess on a whim he did a search on the name of the town in which he’d done his homestay. Within the results was the homestay story of one of our contributors. Turns out they had been classmates and had done a homestay together through the same homestay program. On top of that, they are both living abroad in the same city right now!

We were really excited to be able to put these two people in contact after all these years. Even more exciting to me is that we’re just getting started – who knows what other wonderful and surprising things will happen as we grow in the future. Making connections… that is what this site is really all about. While I didn’t anticipate making this type of connection, it was a pleasant surprise indeed.

Episode 3

June 17th, 2005, 11:30 PM

From my home/office in Silver Spring, MD

The longed for and illustrious “word of mouth” traffic has finally become a reality for Three, that’s right count ’em, THREE people this week started their emails to me with “My friend sent me a link to your site…” Well I just couldn’t be happier. I just keep picturing someone sitting at their computer and thinking “Oh I just have to tell so-and-so about this.” It makes me smile just thinking about it. It is really encouraging to know that we’re slowly but surely growing some truly organic community here.

I want this site to speak to people. I want it to ring true. I want people to be moved by our stories and to get a tingly happy feeling in their gut. I hope these recent signs are an indication that we’re on the right track to achieve those goals.

Episode 4

September 9th, 2006, 2:00 PM

From my NEW home/office in Silver Spring, MD

Ok, well it has been a long time without a whole lot of activity on the site, but I hope to get things moving again. I know, I know, that is what everyone running a small “one man show” type of website says when they neglect their online baby. The good news is, our site has continued to grow over the last year and I think if we stay focused, develop some new content, and keep plugging along, we’ll be just fine.

Where have I been? Well, not to bring my personal life into this too much, but I’ve had a couple major events that have kept me pretty occupied over the last year. The first is that my significant other and I bought our first home together. Usually that wouldn’t have been a big deal, but anyone who knows what the real estate market has been like in the DC area (and many other cities for that matter) will understand that it can get a little crazy. Once that all got settled, I left the job I’d been at for years to start a new one. A long semi-frustrating experience on the whole, but things are good now and I finally have some time to get back to working on the site. Sorry for the delay, but this is a nights and weekends type of project for me and sometimes “life happens.”

Leave a Reply