I wanted to make this post in celebration of the Polish Independence Day that is coming on November 11th. Poland has struggled with democracy, freedom of speech, and basic human rights in the past years due to the oppressive, far-right and Euroskeptic government ruling the country. This is changing now that parliamentary elections last month revealed the opposition was chosen to take over, which will open many new doors for Poland on the international scene and start positive change within the country. Truly an Independence Day to celebrate.

TOLAROIDS: Chasing the “American Dream”

This week’s Tolaroids take a political turn. I went to the rally on Saturday, 5th November, freshly press-accredited and not knowing what to expect: I’ve been to a few protests, but not yet a political rally in the US.

I can’t even vote here but I still remember the chills I got when various speakers took the stage of the Rackham building to address problems that make the everyday lives of millions of Americans much harder than they should be.  Senator Bernie Sanders along with many other interesting speakers addressed the need for nationalized healthcare, free public education, reproductive rights and body autonomy, problems of climate change, widespread sexism and institutional racism, as well as criticized some behaviors and opinions of the running Republicans while bringing back some infamous moments of Donald Trump’s presidency. Sanders was firm and straightforward, it really felt like he was talking to normal people who are leading normal lives, and the diverse crowd that showed up pushing the capacity of the auditorium proves that. That night addressed many problems that simple elections won’t immediately fix – but it’s a start, a step forward to building a safer, more inclusive, and better future for everyone in the United States.

“We have to build an economy that works for all and not just a few” B. Sanders.


Bernie really seems to have an idea of how to fix what’s broken in the American political system, and as an outsider who has a comparison to my country’s broken system, I consider his arguments extremely valuable. It’s hard to say it about a politician, but even someone who doesn’t agree with his views can have a feeling that he is one of the most “real” politicians, not blind-sided by a two-party race, but rather focused on how to actually progress. During the rally, he says:

“I’m not here to tell you, not for a second, that I think the Democratic Party is doing anywhere near what it should be doing. But it is absolutely imperative that, up and down the line, we defeat right-wing Republicans and we elect Democrats.”

It’s not about the two colors, it’s about who can provide everyone with a better future.

I hope you guys went out there and voted, for yourself, for your family, for your state, and for all the rest of us who also can’t vote but who are affected by all this political mess.


Any questions/comments/concerns, you know where to find me



PS. Special credits for Linus Hoeller and his Lightroom

Make Music + Food, Not War

I recently had the privilege of attending a concert by the Silk Road Ensemble

which is comprised of over 60 musicians from 24 different countries.  On Saturday night at Hill Auditorium, I heard Yo-Yo Ma, Cristina Pato, and thirteen other members give a whirlwind performance that took my breath away.

Using such varied instruments such as the cello, the gaita (a sort of Spanish bagpipe), the piano, tabla, and the human voice, they cooked up a multicultural mix of musical sounds and styles.

Every musician was very skilled as they effortlessly glided through different continental styles and modes.   I couldn’t help but smile myself when I saw the happy, satisfied looks on their faces as they played each piece.  One of the musicians commented on how the group arranges traditional orchestral pieces to suit the different instruments that find their way into the ensemble. He said it was like taking a classic recipe and improvising.

The wonderful collaboration reminded me of a dinner I had attended, where me and some of my Christian friends enjoyed some delicious Middle Eastern food with the Muslim students association.  The dinner was a peaceful and enjoyable way that different cultures could connect.

In general, it made me think that there would be a lot less political conflict, if world leaders sat down and ate together and played music together more often.  Who can honestly say they don’t like good music and good food, especially when mixed together?

Below: Yo-Yo Ma: the artistic director of the Silk Road Ensemble, and the man who inspired me to take up the cello in fifth grade and especially to master the Bach Suites.

The Man, The Myth, The Legend
The Man, The Myth, The Legend