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Andrew Forsthoefel: The Transformational Power Of Listening - 012

By David Newell

At 23, Andrew Forsthoefel walked out the back door of his home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, with a backpack, an audio recorder and a sign that read “Walking to Listen.” He had just graduated from university and was ready to begin his adult life, but he didn’t know how. So he decided he’d walk and listen on a journey of 4,000 miles across the USA over the course of 11 months. What started as a quest to explore and to listen to other's perspectives, quickly became a deep, introspective journey into his own self; his fears, doubts, joys, solace and loneliness. As he navigated his way across the US, having interactions ranging from the most ordinary to the most profound, he found a world that was a mirror of himself and a journey that was a pilgrimage of the soul. Along the way, thousands of people shared their stories with him, often exposing their most intimate selves to a stranger who was deeply committed to listening. Those conversations were often tinged with threads of pain, be they from long-held divisions in race and class or from the moving stories of personal heartbreak and sacrifice. Each one provided Andrew an opportunity for deep listening and reflection, and within it the potential for profound inner transformation. By the end of his journey, Andrew was a different person with a new perspective on what it means to come of age today. Having been transformed through the power of listening, his experience is a beacon of light to inspire others to step out into the world, connect deeply to others and find themselves in the process.

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