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A memoir of one young man’s coming of age on a journey across America--told through the stories of the people of all ages, races, and inclinations he meets along the way.

Travels from: Massachusetts

Andrew Forsthoefel

Andrew Forsthoefel is a writer, speaker, and peace activist living in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts. After graduating from Middlebury College, he was ready to begin his adult life, but didn’t know how. So he decided to take a cross-country quest for guidance, in which everyone he met would be his guide.

In the year that followed, he faced an Appalachian winter and a Mojave summer. He met beasts inside: fear, loneliness, doubt. But he also encountered incredible kindness from strangers of all different kinds. Thousands shared their stories with him, sometimes confiding their prejudices, too. Often he didn’t know how to respond. How to find unity in diversity? How to stay connected, even as fear works to tear us apart? He listened for answers to these questions, and to the existential questions every human must face, and began to find that the answer might be in listening itself.

After his year-long walk across America, Andrew began telling the stories from his transformative journey. He co-produced a radio documentary about this project that was featured on "This American Life," and his book, Walking to Listen, goes deeper into the stories and explores the practice and philosophy of walking to listen.

Andrew now writes and speaks about the discipline of listening and its role in the work of reconciliation, transformational resistance, and peace-making at the personal and collective levels. He is an itinerant teacher, offering walks and workshops that train participants in the work of becoming a trustworthy listener. His work is a contribution to the collective project of learning how to be alive together with love, by listening—united by our diversity, empowered by sharing the unavoidable vulnerability of being human, and freed by opening up to ourselves and one another. is the online home for his work, and he lives in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts.


Talks and Topics

  • Download Speaker Profile

  • Walking to Listen: Stories and Teachings from a Walk Across America (WTL Study Questions)

  • Living to Listen: The Work of Peacemaking and Transformational Resistance for a Divided World

  • Listening is the Missing Medicine: An Antidote to the Mental Health Crisis

  • The Spiritual Technology of Listening: Cultivating a Fierce and Tender Heart

  • Reimagining Masculinity by Listening First: For Men in the Age of #MeToo

  • You Gotta Feel It to Heal It: Listening to Heal Racism and White Supremacy

  • Coming of Age: On Becoming an Adult

  • Do You Know Your Colleagues? Why Listening is Good Business

More than a story of the physical trials and tribulations of walking across the country (although there’s plenty of that too!), this is a deeply felt account of the trials and tribulations of growing up . . . the ‘how do I fit into this world?’ kind of exploration. Enjoy a journey across our country through this fascinating young man’s eyes as he recounts and ponders the stories and life philosophies from people he meets along the way.
— Boston Globe
Some books you fall in love with on the first page. Walking to Listen is one of those books. This quixotic, analog journey will restore your faith in millennials, in America, in humanity. Forsthoefel writes with a grace and quiet wisdom that belie his years. There’s a little Kerouac in these pages, a touch of Thoreau, and even Forrest Gump, but what shines through is an original voice demanding to be heard. Listening is pure pleasure.
— Eric Wieiner, author of GEOGRAPHY OF GENIUS

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