Hello, my name is Albin and I'm going to begin my story with completing a ‘Great Books’ program at the University of San Francisco where I majored in philosophy. Part of the program allowed students, who applied to and were accepted, to take courses at Oxford for one full year. I was accepted and studied philosophy and theology with the Dominican monks at Blackfriars Hall. Ten years before I graduated I began skateboarding—something I still do today—spending years on the street, meeting the people and hearing the stories that populated them.

When I graduated from university, I moved to Richmond, VA and worked at the Legal Aid Justice Center through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. We worked with homeless clients, clients who lived in public housing, illegal immigrants who lived in abysmal housing. The cast of characters I met that year informed my passions, which 12 years later I’m only now beginning to articulate.

I don’t know whether passions are born or learned but hearing the stories of the street are where mine lie. I’m always listening. Having graduated with a degree in philosophy, then spending my days walking door to door in the Mosby Court South housing projects, listening to what everyone had to say, I learned that there is no monopoly on knowledge.

When I was living in Richmond, VA, I started a ‘zine called YOUNG PHILOSOPHER and used this publication to gain entrée into the worlds of those I found most fascinating. I walked up to friends, strangers, celebrities and unknowns of all kinds, asking for their stories. A year in Los Angeles and five in NYC and I was never at a loss for subjects.

Three days after screening a documentary film I made on Takahiro Ueno, the first Japanese to win the Showtime at the Apollo amateur contest and holding an issue release party for YP #11, an issue where I explored the questions, “What is inspiration and what is manipulation? How are they the same and how are they different?” I left to serve in the Peace Corps.

A couple weeks into my service, I was missing home but then I turned from New York City, where I had been living, to a tiny village in Bulgaria, my new home. I drank the water, ate the food, felt the breeze and lived on the rakia. Language came next and I began learning the stories of another culture, stories from older generations to ancient ancestors and even new tales and pop music fantasies mixed with the national anthems. It seemed like I left something behind in NYC but a bigger world was opening to me.

I spent a month in Turkey with a woman I still dream of today and then headed back to the states to study international policy and diplomacy at the Josef Korbel School for International Studies at the University of Denver. Now, I'm living and working in Washington, DC.

What has always been here for me? Stories and the people who are those stories—family and friends and those who one day might be.

If you would like to reach me, send me an email at albinsikora@gmail.com. Would be glad to show you around Washington, DC or have you show me around your city.