In the summer of 1988, I was a photojournalist for a pioneering cultural exchange between Soviet and American high school students in the Republic of Latvia. This was the era of Gorbachev, the era of Glasnost and Perestroika, and the beginning of the end of the Cold War with the “Evil Empire”. Through the catalyst of a musical play called “Peace Child”, these 15 American and 15 Latvian high school students dealt with the (then) very real fear of nuclear war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Their play toured through Latvia and brought audiences to tears. And the participants developed a friendship so strong that they had to be torn apart when saying good-bye just so they could make the departing train. If there was ever a great way to bring two warring countries together, exchanges like this are a wonderful and meaningful way to start.
Armed with my cameras, a tape recorder, and about 150 rolls of slide film, I documented the exchange with the intent of telling this important story back in America. The multi-media presentation that resulted has won awards and has moved American audiences to tears as well. Good stories can do that.