So, what is the World in Twelve? Before I answer that question, let me just give a word of thanks. Out of the gazillion sites out there in this universe known as the World Wide Web, thank you for arriving to this page!! You could be doing anything--YouTube binging, Facebook stalking, Buzzfeed glancing, Angry Bird flinging, tweeting and retweeting, tumbling, sumblinguponing, Instagramming, doing homework (yeah, right)--whatever, and yet you’re reading this right here, right now (Cue: Fatboy Slim). See, life seems like an endless cycle. Wake up, go to work, have a drink, go to bed. Rinse. Repeat. Next week there will be the inevitable new episode of Ameican Idol, and next month there will be the inevitable new Frappucino flavor. If you scroll through Google calendar enough, you start get the feeling, maybe time is infinite. Maybe I will live forever. News flash: You won’t. That’s why I am extremely grateful for the fact that you are even spending a millisecond of your precious time on my project. Thanks!!
Ok, enough with the fluff. So, what is this project, the World in Twelve? Putting it simply, its a project where, I, Leo Kominz, will get to do whatever I like for the first time in my life. No no, the question is what are you actually doing? Oh ok, sorry, my bad. Too simple huh. To answer that I would say:
I will live in 12 different cities around the world for one month each, and conduct 12 common sub-projects.
A little bit clearer now? Not really? Yeah I thought so. I can still see the “WTF?” signs hanging over your heads. Lets see, how should I explain this…
It was late 2013, nearing the beginning of the winter season in Japan, and I was bored out of my mind. I was a Japanese salaryman at the time (not a businessman, salaryman. If you’re interested in the differences, try googling it. I hope it won’t make you depressed), and if my life resembled a color, well, it wasn't sky-blue with a dash of golden sun light, if you know what I mean (It was quite the opposite, actually). I didn’t like my job, and I felt that I didn't have a place in the company's future. I had been living in Tokyo for 5 years, and although I loved the city, I felt I needed a change in scenery. Even the Tokyo that I loved was starting its descent, turning gray, intro an endless, blurry cycle. So I thought to myself, I need to get out. TO WORLD!!!!
I was excited, energized, and in enjoyment for the first time since I don’t even remember when (probably sometime during college), but that’s when I encountered a few problems.
1. I’m not much of a traveller.
I was never really the “going to somewhere for a week, checking out all the tourist attractions, coming home and telling my friends over some tapas and sangria, ‘Oh my god, wherever-ever was just soooo gorgeous. That sunset over the Mediterranean—like, I’ve never seen anything like it. I definitely have to get back’ ” type. Sounds cool, but not my thing.
2. I’m not one of those backpacking vagabond types either.
You know, the “I went to XX number of countries in XX amount of days, wore a beard and turban, played ‘futbol’ with the local children, helped herd goats, wrote a blog, and oh, my views on life and society really changed, and we as people of a first world nation have the—,“ type. Yeah, again, sounds cool, but not my thing.
So the million dollar question: What should I do then??
It was time for reflection. I had to stare deep into the dark pool located in the cavity of my soul. What is it I’m actually interested in? Why do I want to go around the world? What do I want to do??
First of all I realized that I was interested in the daily, ordinary lives of people. Aha, it wasn’t that I didn’t like travelling, it was that I didn’t like the vacation aspect of travelling, where your limited time lets you experience only the icing and none of the cake. So I decided if I were to go places, I would want to live there for a specific amount of time, so I could experience the daily lives of the locals. This was a major factor in creating the World in Twelve.
￼Secondly, I realized when I want to do something, there always has to be a purpose or a goal, and it has to be interesting. Aha, it wasn’t that I didn’t like these vagabond figures, but more that I didn’t like their reasoning (escaping from capitalism, self-discovery, etc.) behind their travels. The world adventurers with a true concrete goal and purpose—visiting wineries and learning new techniques, meeting CEOs of successful venture startups and interning at their company, for example—I liked. Actually it was more than “I like,” those people were my inspiration. This was another big factor in the creation of the World in Twelve.
So this is how it all played out...
First, I set the time period for “experiencing daily life” at one month. Why one month? Well, one month is the amount of time students spend on their short-term summer study abroad programs in college, which is one of the few “experience a foreign country” events that almost everybody has a chance at, if they really want it. Also, I was planning on leaving for a year, which meant that one month would give me 12 cities to live in, and I liked the number 12. It was a gut feeling; it just fit.
Next I looked for the goal of my trip, and how to make it interesting. Living in 12 cities for a month each might be fun, but that alone wouldn’t make my time “interesting”. I decided to make the goal of my trip “a cross segmentation of the world,” and achieve this goal by conducting common sub-projects in each city. Each sub-project would be independently interesting, and on a vertical axis, the conglomeration would be a representation of the city. On the horizontal axis, I could compare and contrast the similarities and differences between each city, using the common sub-projects. The graph below probably explains this better than I do.
So that is the answer to the original question “What is the World in Twelve?”, in a little bit more detail. Is everything a little clearer now? Yes? No? If no, I’ll just have to apologize. I should have studied better for that writing 101 class.
Anyway, that is the basics surrounding this project. Next, if you’re still bored (or interested!), please check out how I chose the cities and projects, a few rules, some FAQs, and if you’re REALLY bored, you can learn more about the team that made all this.