Penn State Grad’s Snapchat Project Takes You Around The World
Right after a long semester packed with work, the typical college student is usually relieved to go home. They’re looking forward to relaxing, catching up with old friends, and essentially doing a whole lot of nothing for a whole summer. If those are the criteria for a common college student, however, recent Penn State alumnus Ryan Gagnon is quite the exception.
Gagnon graduated from Penn State this spring with degrees in Economics and Statistics. Wasting no time relaxing, he packed his bags and headed out for an epic adventure only four days after graduation. Visiting 11 countries in six weeks, Ryan went from middle-of-nowhere State College to all over the globe.
While diving into countless new cultures and experiencing endless adventures, Gagnon made sure to document his incredible escapade. However, he did more than simply snap a few photos. Using the mobile app Snapchat, commonly used for silly exchanges and photo-messages between friends, Gagnon documented each day of his travels, uploading his entertaining content wherever he could find Wi-Fi. Just like a real-time travel vlog, Gagnon utilized this simple app to supply his friends and family at home with effortless and engaging entertainment.
Throughout his voyage, Gagnon visited, in order: Belgium, Greece, Turkey, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Morocco, The Rock of Gibraltar, Germany, Austria, and The Netherlands. During his travels, Gagnon learned how different living abroad really is, unlike how the media displays it in America.
“The media’s scripted story often sensationalizes the news in foreign countries to increase viewers — documenting only the triumphs or tragedies that countries face,” Gagnon said. “The media has an agenda to push and there is no room for public voice in their story. I wanted to create a platform that turned the spotlight onto the people.”
Speaking of people, Gagnon certainly met many friendly faces, and certainly made some new friends. A distinct memory from his trip involved an episode of him and his father riding mopeds in Mykonos, Greece. What planned to be an exciting ride turned out rather unpleasant, as Gagnon made a slick turn and fell off his moped.
“My dad saw me sliding and put on his brakes and slid too, it was a comical disaster,” Gagnon said. “I looked down at my knee, which was white. I was pretty sure I saw my bone.”
Luckily, a van equipped with medical gear and a doctor were on the scene in minutes. After they bandaged Gagnon up, they took him to the hospital. “In the U.S. an ambulance ride alone would’ve cost me an arm and a leg,” said Gagnon. “But it was all free!”
What struck Gagnon most was the generosity and natural good-nature of the people he met abroad. In his horrific accident, the locals made him feel safe and cared for.
Inspired by his trip and the memories he created abroad, Gagnon created a new Snapchat account called, “Tell Your Story.” Throughout his adventure, he met individuals willing and eager to help with his project.
While spending time in Casablanca, Gagnon met a man named Mehdi when they were both staying in the same hotel. This man had never met an American before, and they ended up chatting over a table of cards with his friends.
“He instantly became my friend and agreed to host as Casablanca on the Tell Your Story account,” said Gagnon.
In the past three weeks, Gagnon has been recruiting more passionate travelers and locals from around the world to represent their country and share their story on Snapchat.
“I have close to 30 hosts now,” said Gagnon. “On August 1, we’ll embark on a Snapchat journey around the world, starting in Singapore for their 50th Birthday Anniversary celebration. Every 24 hours, the ‘Tell Your Story’ account will be passed to someone new from a different country, where they can document life in a personal and unfiltered manner — through their eyes.”
You can support Ryan’s fascinating project by following the Snapchat account, “tellyourstory.” So now, if you’re ever feeling a bit bored of this upcoming school year in State College, you can transport yourself into a different country just by opening the app.
To learn more about Ryan’s project, you can read about the mission and learn more about the hosts here. Also, check out Ryan’s awesome recap video, “Around the World in 40 Snaps:”