International Education Week ends with guest speaker

Olivia Medovich
Staff writer

J. Marrten Troost, author of “The Sex Lives of Cannibals”, was the guest speaker at the last event for International Education Week Thursday night in Wrather Hall.

Troost, an avid traveler, shared stories with the audience and read from one of his three travel memoirs.

“The Sex Lives of Cannibals”, is a travelogue that describes the two years Troost spent living on a remote island on the Pacific Ocean in the nation of Kiribati. In the travelogue he talks about what it was like to be a westerner living in isolation from modern civilization.

Troost said “The Sex Lives of Cannibals” fun to write because it was liberating to be able to do and write as he pleased.

“Partly it was such an absurd experience and absurdity lends itself to writing,” Troost said. “At the time, nobody was expecting anything from me.

He said traveling to Kiribati changed and altered the way he viewed the world.

Curiosity of an endlessly changing world makes him want to keep traveling, Troost said.

“I think I’m hard wired for it because of all the times I moved as a youth,” he said. “It’s the curiosity of it, it’s the wanting the sort-of rock your world with a little bit of change. I just love traveling. I just feel alive doing it.”

He said college students need to experience traveling because it will help them grow as people.

“To open their eyes, to live, to expand their world and to learn,” Troost said. “After a certain point it becomes sort of addicting. It’s the thrill of it. I think I would be bored senseless if I never traveled.”

For the most part, going somewhere unknown doesn’t scare him, he said. There has only been one incident where he thought he might be in danger during his adventures.

“Walking down the street in China, some guy smacked me on the back of the head,” Toost said. “I didn’t know what was going on. People there would just stare with blank faces.”

Troost said for his next project he will be following in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson, a Scottish novelist, poet and travel writer by traveling through the Pacific.

“I have been reading a lot of literature on the 19th century about the South Pacific and I was really struck by Robert Louis Stevenson,” he said. “He left San Francisco intending on going on a six month cruise and ended up living there.”

The experience of traveling depends on so much more than geography, Troost said.

“Every place is different,” he said. “ It depends on where you are at individually, it depends on your circumstances and who you are traveling with. All I know is that tomorrow always promises to bring something better.”

Other works of Troost include “Lost on Planet China” and “Getting Stoned with Savages.”

Megan Sumners, sophomore from Paris, Tenn., said she was inspired by Troost’s travels and hopes one day she will get to experience the world like him.

“Both of my minors are Spanish and German,” Sumners said. “Traveling is something I really like to do. I want to travel and work in different countries. “

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