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Andrew Forsthoefel shares ‘Walking to Listen’ journey

Thursday, October 2, 2014

In 2011, Andrew Forsthoefel set out from his home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, to cross the United States on foot.

He wore a sign that read “Walking to Listen.” By the time he reached the Pacific Ocean almost 11 months later, he had accumulated 85 hours of taped interviews and hundreds of unrecorded stories from the people he met along the way.

He’ll share some of those stories in a presentation at Mercyhurst University on Oct. 14. His talk on Tuesday, Oct. 14, begins at 7:30 p.m. in Walker Recital Hall and is free and open to the public.

Forsthoefel was 23 when he began the walk, just months after earning a degree in environmental studies from Middlebury College. At the time, he described himself as “a wonderer, wanderer, whathaveyou” who was undertaking the listening walk to explore the worlds inside and outside himself.

“Every one of us has an extraordinary story worth hearing, and I’m walking the country to listen,” he wrote as he began his blog.

He headed south, then veered west at Louisiana, going where he was taken by serendipity and camping along the way. He documented the whole adventure on his blog and later collaborated with transom.org to co-produce a radio documentary about his experience that was featured on the NPR radio show “This American Life.” He’s also working on a book.

Mercyhurst’s Campus Involvement Center and School of Arts and Humanities are sponsoring Forsthoefel’s visit in conjunction with the 2014-15 academic theme of Confronting Injustice. Andrew’s father, Thomas Forsthoefel, Ph.D., a professor of religious studies at Mercyhurst, helped coordinate the event.

To learn more about the cross-country trek, check out Forsthoefel’s blog at walkingtolisten.com. For more information about his Erie visit, contact Dr. Alice Edwards, aedwards@mercyhurst.edu.