Speaker shares abroad experiences

Aaron Mudd

For Loup Langton, travel is about being open to possibilities. 

Langton, the director of WKU’s School of Journalism & Broadcasting, plans to give a presentation about those possibilities tonight as a continuation of the WKU Libraries’ Far Away Places series.

“The theme is to have an open mind and an adventurous spirit about life in general, and particularly when traveling and going to other cultures,” Langton said. “By having an open mind and adventurous spirit, it really does open some doors.”

Langton plans to give his talk at 7:00 p.m. at Barnes and Noble. His talk about what he has learned from his travels is free and open to both students and members of the community.

Brian Coutts, head of the WKU Libraries,  said that Langton brings something unique to the series.

“He’s a rare combination of a person who is not only an academic, but a person who has all this great life experience as a professional photographer abroad,” Coutts said.

Some of the locations Langton has visited include Egypt, Haiti and Ecuador. His experiences in Ecuador are particularly timely as WKU prepares to launch its year of Ecuador in fall 2014. For that, Coutts said WKU plans to showcase a country each year by featuring speakers and other events related to the culture and history of that country.

The Far Away Places series has featured more than 80 talks on a wide range of topics from melting glaciers in Chile to boy Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka. Coutts said the WKU Libraries’ decisions about the series are influenced by their audience: students, faculty and members of the community.

“We try to put on programs that have broad appeal, that people might not hear,” Coutts said. “We go into a little more depth than you might hear on a travel show on the television.”

In Ecuador, Langton worked with his friend Pablo to put together a book featuring photographs of life in the South American country. The project was an international effort and required Langton and his colleagues to sort through around 70,000 photo submissions in a week. Langton said the experience goes back to keeping an open mind and sense of adventure.

“We had no experience in putting a project like that together,” Langton said. “The book was really well received. As we thought back on it, it was really kind of funny because we were naïve and a little bit stupid but it worked.”

At the time Photoshop didn’t exist, so photos with technical problems like over-exposure were automatically eliminated. After eliminating those submissions, Langton and the other editors looked at how well photos were composed, interesting moments captured and the use of light. Langton estimates that only 180 submissions made the final cut.

Langton recognizes that there are many ways to appreciate travel and connect with other cultures, especially through the internet. He enjoys using Skype to keep up with his friends overseas.

“I don’t think many people live in isolation anymore,” he said. “I see on this campus, actually, a lot of initiative and excitement for international travel.”