Privacy is the New Celebrity

Tony Nguyen on Combating Misinformation, Privacy in the Army, and His Family's Escape from Saigon - Ep 6

September 09, 2021 Episode 6
Privacy is the New Celebrity
Tony Nguyen on Combating Misinformation, Privacy in the Army, and His Family's Escape from Saigon - Ep 6
Show Notes Transcript

On episode 6, Joshua Goldbard interviews Tony Nguyen, the founder of the American Young Leader Exchange (AYLX), an organization that provides free cultural exchange experiences for high school students. Through his work with AYLX, Tony thinks deeply about how information silos are created and how they can be deconstructed through cultural exchange. Tony is also a US Army veteran, and Josh picks his brain about what privacy looks like in the Army. Tony also shares a deeply personal story about how his family escaped from Saigon on a boat, and ruminates on the similarities between that experience and the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

[00:09] - Speaker 3
Welcome back. This is Privacy is The New Celebrity, a podcast about Privacy and technology. I'm Josh Goldburg, and I'll be your host this week today. I want to welcome Tony Wind onto the podcast.

[00:21] - Speaker 2
Tony is the founder.

[00:22] - Speaker 3
Founder of the American Young Leader Exchange, an organization that empowers American high school students to become cross cultural leaders through domestic exchange. Through this work, Tony deals with Privacy on a very personal level in terms of the student experiences he facilitates. He has also served in the military, which is a place where most of us think Privacy does not exist. We're going to dig into all of that. So, Tony, thanks so much for joining us on Privacy is the new celebrity.

[00:53] - Speaker 1
Thanks for having me.

[00:55] - Speaker 2
We're really excited to have you on the program. I've been following Alex for a long time, and I'm Super interested in the work you're doing there. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

[01:02] - Speaker 1
Yeah, of course. So let's talk about the problem a little bit. The problem today in America is that we're very siloed. We're in our bubbles. It's a geographic bubble. It's a social economic bubble. It's a digital bubble where social media basically feeds you what you want to see and what you want to hear. And so we get into our Echo Chambers. And so the question is, how do you get out of your Echo Chamber? It starts by building cross cultural leaders. Well, how do you do that?

[01:30] - Speaker 1
You physically move them from one culture to another, give them sustained experiences so that they can see what's it like to be outside their bubble. And so what Alex does is that we're a domestic cultural exchange program for high schoolers. So we take high schoolers. We swap families with another American family within the United States. Four semesters. On top of that, before the exchange, we give them a series of communication and social emotional workshops. And during their exchange, we give them a coach that will help guide and talk through their experiences as they're in a new culture.

[02:09] - Speaker 1
Basically, what does Alex stand for the American Young Leader Exchange?

[02:15] - Speaker 2
And when you say young leaders, what do you mean by that?

[02:18] - Speaker 1
We're talking teenagers, specifically, in Alex's case, it's high school sophomores and juniors, young leaders who see potential in culture exchange. They see potential in American culture exchange.

[02:33] - Speaker 2
So this is like a high school student exchange program. Is that a fair way to think about it?

[02:36] - Speaker 1
Exactly? Take what you do. Take International High School exchange, turn it inward, make it domestic, and then involve the families going both ways. So if you send your child away to another American family, you get that American family's child back. And so the parents also have a level of cultural exchange in that.

[02:55] - Speaker 2
So is this, like kids from Beverly Hills swapping with Missouri? What do you think are the sort of places that these kids are coming from?

[03:02] - Speaker 1
A wide breadth wide as possible. And with Alix, we look at five criteria when matching families with students. It's socioeconomic, it's religious, it's ethnic, it's the type of community you're from urban, rural, suburban. And lastly, your regional subculture. And we follow this book called American Nations by Colin Woodward, and he subdivided North American to eleven cultural regions. Other books. Other sociologists would divide it differently, perhaps, but he does it rather well with eleven. So we go there. And when we match up parents, host families. Excuse me, with the students, we look to change about two of those variables, changing four or five.

[03:47] - Speaker 1
That's a lot of cultural shock. Two or three is just enough.

[03:51] - Speaker 2
I think it's really interesting to think about the sorts of things you're trying to introduce people to the changes that they might go through in this program. I really am curious. Like, why are you doing this?

[04:02] - Speaker 1
Several reasons. I'm inspired by several different things. First is my time in the United States Army, started West Point, then became an infantry officer, Ranger qualified. And I saw that this is one of the ways that you can be exposed to different cultural parts of America, the big, great Misting Pot. And outside of that, there aren't that many opportunities for Americans to really meet other Americans and not only meet them, but meet them for a long period of time, do something meaningful together, build actual bonds.

[04:33] - Speaker 2
What do you think people learn by doing this? What do you think the kids are learning?

[04:37] - Speaker 1
They're challenged. First off, because when you leave your Echo Chamber, when you leave your bubble, you're going to be uncomfortable. Not everyone's going to reinforce what your values are. And when you're challenged, either your mind is open or you show up. Most likely you open up because you get to see the other people as people as Americans themselves.

[04:59] - Speaker 2
So you think it humanizes people who are in other parts of American cultures. Is that what you think happens?

[05:04] - Speaker 1
Oh, yeah, absolutely. I think disinformation and misinformation permeates our culture. And when you actually know someone that the disinformation is trying to demonize other you're like, no, I actually know someone that's not true at all. So this exposure, this being a cross cultural leader, rather, inoculates this young leader against disinformation and misinformation, and at some level, because their leader also inoculates their community that they're from.

[05:36] - Speaker 2
Disinformation is just a massive crisis all across the world, but especially in America. Right now, I think that there's disinformation in all cultures. There's this information in all kinds of different communities, and it really just depends on what your mythology is and what sort of information you believe and what you don't. Can you talk a little bit about how this combat information? Like, what do kids learn in this process?

[06:01] - Speaker 1
So formally, they learned the workshops in the beginning, the workshops we go through active listening. We go through non aggressive communication and empathy. So that's, like the formal learning, and then they get to apply it in their exchange. Like, all right. Okay. I'm going to engage people who are just slightly different. We don't expect to be hostile. You're in a new environment. Your host family is very welcoming, armed with these tools you're like, okay, I can now relate. I can see their motivations. I can understand where they're coming from because I actually live there during that semester.

[06:41] - Speaker 1
And so like I said, that's a humanizing element, and it's at a formative time of their lives where they're formulating their point of view, their worldview. And so they're open to it.

[06:55] - Speaker 2
I feel like curiosity is the beginning of trying to unravel some of your beliefs. Some of the things you like sort of hold near and dear that you haven't really questioned. One of the things that I've always believed is that there isn't a concept of Privacy in the military.

[07:08] - Speaker 3
And I've talked to you a little bit about this.

[07:10] - Speaker 2
But I'm curious what your thoughts are on this.

[07:13] - Speaker 1
I think quite often the stereotype of military is what people see from movies. And it's usually basic training. I think a lot of it comes from movies like Full Metal Jacket with High C nods and smiles like it. That drill instructor is not far from.

[07:34] - Speaker 2
The truth is basic training a place where you have Privacy.

[07:38] - Speaker 1
Yeah. So let's start basic training and then progress through like, a soldier's development. Basic training. The idea is to strip away most of your sense of individuality and formula to a team. And so part of that is some of your Privacy. So outside of your little wall locker, it's bigger than the Footlocker that they get in full metal jacket, the wall locker, you're in a Bay and you shower and you change clothes and you do everything else in public view of your unit, your platoon, your squad.

[08:12] - Speaker 1
After you complete basic training. That's about two months. Then you go to advanced individual training. There's four enlisted folks, by the way, enlisted soldiers, and then you get a little more freedom. You get a little more individuality because they broke you down. They molded you into a green military machine, and they give you some of your individuality back. And then as you progress, you get more and more, and then you'll eventually get almost a nine to five. Except for the war part.

[08:44] - Speaker 2
Except for that whole war part.

[08:47] - Speaker 1
You put on a uniform, you go to work and you come home, and then you'll do some field training where you're out with your co workers. And there's some Privacy. It's not to be confused of modesty, but there's a sense of Privacy. And this is just like your physical Privacy. Information wise. Mind you, I got out in 2009. Information wise. Your mail was monitored. If someone sent you contraband when we were deployed, that would get plucked. So I had to pour out a 15 year Scotch because some thoughtful family member sent it to a soldier, and I had poured out in front of almost the entire unit to show them like, yeah, we can't do this.

[09:38] - Speaker 1
Sorry. So, yeah, your mail is monitored, and your emails, I think, are monitored. Your social media is monitored. To what extent? The email I didn't quite follow when I was there. But it's there.

[09:52] - Speaker 2
And how do you think about Privacy for these kids? So obviously, like, they're living in somebody else's home? That home might have different rules than the home that they grew up in, that they were brought up in. How do you think about Privacy for the new young leaders?

[10:08] - Speaker 1
Yeah, that's a great question. And we have Privacy outlined in our agreement between the students and host families, as well as in the handbook. And so we outlined two things that helped define Privacy. One is that each student has their own room. That's not guaranteed, but that needs to be clear up front. Also, that the rules from the host family need to be explicit and listed before the exchange. We also have two layers of monitoring to help the student acclimatize with the host family. It's your Alex regional coordinators, and then the coach themselves and the coaches are probably the first line because they check in and talk to the student at least once every two weeks.

[11:05] - Speaker 2
So I remember life for me when I was a teenager, and there were moments where I really enjoyed having Privacy. And there were moments I think where my Privacy needed to be interrupted for my own benefit. And I wonder what that's like when you're in somebody else's house? It's one thing for your parents to do that. It's another thing for people who are not your parents to violate your Privacy. What happens if a kid just doesn't come out of the room for a long time?

[11:30] - Speaker 1
Yeah. That's a conversation between the host family as well as the home family. And that's kind of the secret sauce of this exchange is that these two sets of parents are raising each other's kids simultaneously. So they're going to have those conversations and they're going to explore what is the edges of what they consider private in their own home versus someone else's and have these sort of conversations and learn from each other. So I'm definitely not guaranteeing that it's not going to be bumping. We're at the edges of culture, but we set enough, basically bumpers when you're bowling and enough to experiment.

[12:16] - Speaker 2
They're kind of guardrails.

[12:18] - Speaker 1

[12:18] - Speaker 2
How do you think about the differentiation of Privacy in the military versus the differentiation of the Privacy that you're expecting of young leaders?

[12:25] - Speaker 1
I think we can start with it's not like basic training. We're not stripping away their individuality.

[12:31] - Speaker 2
If anything, you're trying to enforce it a little bit, right. Like you're trying to help them be more individual.

[12:35] - Speaker 1
Exactly. Because even though you have all the support network and assets with you, on your exchange, you're still on a journey. You're still on exploration more or less by yourself. Ideally, we like to have more than one exchange student at a school so you can beat each other's network. But you're still an adventure on your own. And so the sense of Privacy. There's a strange overlap between your home family and the host family because your home family could implement certain electronic controls on what you do. But you physically live in the home family.

[13:12] - Speaker 1
And so there's an overlap between digital Privacy controls of your home family and the host family's physical Privacy.

[13:22] - Speaker 2
That's super interesting. That's super interesting. I never thought about that. They're obviously like rules of the home that you're in.

[13:30] - Speaker 1

[13:30] - Speaker 3
And they're also your family's rules.

[13:33] - Speaker 2
And those rules might conflict. So I assume that your family's rules dominate. Those are like the rules everybody follows. But maybe that's not the case. How do you think about sort of the rules that the host family has versus the rules that their parents have and what happens if they're in conflict?

[13:49] - Speaker 1
What happens if they're in conflict?

[13:50] - Speaker 2
Because they might be right? Because they're different cultures?

[13:52] - Speaker 1
Oh, absolutely. They'll be natural and conflict. We expect that. And so again, the secret sauce is that the parents host each other's kids. And so that is a negotiation. That is a discussion of things that were not necessarily explicit when you lived at home. And now you have, let's say, the rule. So your home rule was that no TV after eleven and then your host family, like, there's no rules. So what rides? And that conversation depends really like exploring the other culture. Right.

[14:27] - Speaker 2
You want to be exposed to some different rules, right.

[14:29] - Speaker 1
Exactly. There's explicit rules that we have in our agreement about alcohol and smoking and such. But we leave space for both the family and the home family and the student to explore what is the edge of my Privacy? What is the edge of the rules here?

[14:53] - Speaker 2
Is Privacy important to you the most? Let me put it this way. Like you joined the military and you explicitly gave a Privacy for a period of time. You're saying that Privacy is like the most important thing you but you chose to give it up for your country and for your personal development. And so I'm just really curious, how did you make that decision? Why did you do that?

[15:17] - Speaker 1
So to answer your question, probably in a roundabout way. I think consent is a huge part where, yeah, I chose to. You said right there. I chose to give up a certain part of it and then knowing that I'll get it back. And so I think consent, it needs to be explicit. And if it is, then it's understandable. And then we can have a conversation about individuals Privacy. And now the question is it important to me? Yes. Is it important to my organization? Yes. By extension, our coaches, our students, our host families.

[15:58] - Speaker 1
Yes, one. We don't sell any information. We don't solicit to anyone younger than 14. We destroy our data after five years, for example, unless we need for record keeping. So there's Privacy policies in place, especially when it comes to young adults.

[16:19] - Speaker 2
When did you first realize that Privacy was important to you?

[16:23] - Speaker 1
I think it was when? All right. Here's a story. Basic training. There's a little ceremony around getting mail from your loved ones. At the end of the day, it was the time to kind of relax and sit there like good school children in front of the drill instructor, drill Sergeant, because we're in the army. And as they doled out mail, and they would dole out mail in a very invasive manner. And what I mean by that?

[16:57] - Speaker 2
Would they read your mail or.

[16:58] - Speaker 1
Like, they wouldn't necessarily read their mail, but they would look at the entire package or the letter on the outside. They would smell it. They would find ways to embarrass you through the mail you got and they look for contraband. I think they look for contraband. My parents send me a contraband, but they look for contraband. So that's when I started getting inkling like, hey, man, this isn't quite right. I know what you're trying to do. Stop contraband, aka alcohol. And whatnot, at the same time, mail is such a sacred thing.

[17:41] - Speaker 2
Federal crime open, right?

[17:43] - Speaker 1

[17:43] - Speaker 2
Maybe there's laws are suspended in the military. I don't know.

[17:46] - Speaker 1
That's why I figure, because it was so predominant in basic strength into deployment looking for contraband. So at the same time, yeah, that ran up against the culture and the federal law of like, okay, mail is sacred. And so that physical sense of Privacy, then, of course, you abstract it to a digital sense of Privacy, email and such.

[18:15] - Speaker 2
So basic training is, like the first place that you realize Privacy really mattered to you. Oh, yeah. So interesting. Did your parents give you a lot of Privacy when you're young?

[18:23] - Speaker 1
Yeah. That whole Dragon mom thing, actually, not my parents. Strangely enough, they were refugees from Vietnam boat refugees. So you would think that they'll be on my case to be what is it?

[18:39] - Speaker 2

[18:39] - Speaker 1
Both refugee is that after the fall of Saigon, which may sound very familiar these days, what they call. I think the third wave of refugees left Vietnam and went to various places that took them as refugees. So you had Vietnamese refugees in Finland and Indonesia and America.

[19:00] - Speaker 2
They literally got on a boat.

[19:02] - Speaker 1
They they normally got on a fishing boat and got out of South Vietnam and then adrifted, usually until they ended up in Indonesia, Malaysia, anywhere. Or they get picked up by a fishing vessel and they get adopted by that country. Hence the Finnish Vietnamese. Yeah.

[19:19] - Speaker 2
Is there a big Vietnamese culture in Finland?

[19:21] - Speaker 1
There's a tiny one I know of a friend of a friend who has relatives there, and they speak Finnish, English in Vietnamese. That's so cool. Wow. Man.

[19:30] - Speaker 2
I just get the idea of just, like, leaving the country and getting on a boat and going to a new life. I guess that is something that it's still very common, but it's something that is kind of forced on people at times.

[19:41] - Speaker 1
Yeah. You distill all your worldly possessions down to gold bars, you sell them into your clothes, and you get on a boat of someone you may or may not trust.

[19:53] - Speaker 2
Privacy is really important on the boat down.

[19:57] - Speaker 1
Yeah. Exactly. Wow.

[20:00] - Speaker 2
So they got on his boat, and then where did they end up?

[20:02] - Speaker 1
They first went to Malaysia, got picked up in the Malaysian Army. They were segregated in their own refugee camp, but they weren't accepted. And then they eventually towed out, put on the boat and towed back up by the Malaysian Navy and left in the open ocean.

[20:20] - Speaker 2

[20:22] - Speaker 1
Yeah. I don't think that's a story that's very commonly known. Wow. What? Yeah.

[20:26] - Speaker 2
How do they deal with that?

[20:28] - Speaker 1
My father was the leader of this particular boat, and he oh, yeah. By the way, they took all their maps and left them in the middle.

[20:36] - Speaker 2
Do they have, like.

[20:37] - Speaker 3
A motor on the boat?

[20:38] - Speaker 1
He had a motor and they barely had enough gas. And my father snuck a map, hit a map within the shoe of a little girl. And that's what they used to guide them to Indonesia.

[20:49] - Speaker 2
And he did that because the expectation was that the little girl would not be searched.

[20:54] - Speaker 1
Privacy of a little girl. Wow.

[20:57] - Speaker 2
So where did they end up?

[20:58] - Speaker 1
They end up in Indonesia. And the Indonesians gave them refugee status, I think, for a year and then they got accepted by America and then got into the military plane. And then we're sponsored by a Church group in Michigan.

[21:14] - Speaker 2
So talk about cross cultural exchange, right?

[21:18] - Speaker 1

[21:19] - Speaker 2
So there was this Church group in Michigan. And then you grew up where?

[21:23] - Speaker 1
Church group in Michigan. They stayed there for, like, a month before they're eventually relocated to California, where they move to Sacramento. Eventually, San Jose, for the rest of San Jose.

[21:34] - Speaker 2
Is a huge Vietnamese population.

[21:35] - Speaker 1
Huge. Yeah.

[21:36] - Speaker 2
So you grew up in San Jose?

[21:37] - Speaker 1
I grew up in San Jose.

[21:39] - Speaker 2
That's such a crazy path to get to America.

[21:42] - Speaker 1
Yeah. I see a lot of parallels to what's going on today. Yes, a lot.

[21:52] - Speaker 2
Did you serve in Afghanistan?

[21:54] - Speaker 1
I serve in Iraq? Yeah. During the surgeon of 708.

[21:58] - Speaker 2
And I guess the question I have is just thinking about what did that teach you as a youth, like, what values did your parents installed with you? I know a lot of times when you are like a refugee family, the things that matter to you and the things that your parents teach you are radically different than people who had an easier life. And so it seems to me that you are fairly well grounded. And I'm curious in your youth. Seems like you had Privacy. It seems that you had autonomy.

[22:29] - Speaker 2
What do you think your parents taught you? Because of the fact that they came to America in this fashion?

[22:35] - Speaker 1
It was an interesting dual message, two major messages. And let's give more context. I was the first child that they had. And so I was the first Vietnamese native born American. And so they're just figuring that out. They're 25. They had me. And so they were torn between two forces, one of a culturation. You're in a new place. You culturally to survive. That maybe just meant swallowing your cultural identity, to get by and to survive. And the other one was remember where you came from. That country is dead in a manner.

[23:16] - Speaker 1
And so we're the last remnants of it anywhere. A way to identify that is if you meet any Vietnam person, they insist on things like, on, then, you know, like, okay. Yeah. And so we have these two groups under these two opposing forces, like, yes, a culture. But also remember where you're from. And so that's figuring it out as we grow up.

[23:45] - Speaker 2
So how did your parents feel about you joining the military after obviously, the American military is indirectly the reason they're in America. But it's also the thing that did not protect them in Saigon.

[23:55] - Speaker 1
It is a very complex relationship, for sure. It's complex relation, not just with the military, but with America, right.

[24:04] - Speaker 2
Do they have a lot of feelings when you join the military?

[24:06] - Speaker 1
They did.

[24:07] - Speaker 2
What did they say to you?

[24:11] - Speaker 1
Actually, they're very positive about the American military. They're positive about America. I think Vietnamese have a sense of forgiveness that I haven't seen very often. When you go to Vietnam, they just consider the Vietnam War as like, okay. Yeah. That's in the past.

[24:31] - Speaker 2
They go to Vietnam, and they're just like, that is the thing that happened already.

[24:35] - Speaker 1
Yeah. Wow. They're very welcoming to Americans.

[24:39] - Speaker 2
And even your parents who are exiled Vietnamese.

[24:44] - Speaker 1
Oh, yeah. It's a cultural thing to be expected as a refugee, as a Vietnamese American, to go back quite often and visit the folks who did not make it out, because now you're a rich American. You come back and help your relatives out and visit them.

[25:02] - Speaker 2
So did they ever eventually accept your time in the military?

[25:07] - Speaker 1
They did when I got into West Point that's my mom really accepted it because West Point is better known in Vietnam than here in America. Wow. So she would parade me around and be so proud of her boy. And I'm like, I'm just going to stand up straight and not say too much. She would glow. She was like, yeah, I'm the Bell of the ball. Look at my son so super proud. And I guess for good reason. And it wasn't until fairly late in my adult life that I fully grasped the complexity of the relationship from the Vietnamese people with the military.

[25:49] - Speaker 1
As well, because America supported the imperialist, the French imperialist after World War II, and so supported the two nation system. And then we know what happened afterwards. And so how you go from zero to hero, that's how.

[26:07] - Speaker 2
And I guess that's so interesting, because there's really the dichotomy of America supporting during the time that the Russians are invading Afghanistan, the United States supported the local Afghan force, which ultimately sort of became the Taliban. And then when the Americans decided to invade Afghanistan, it was sort of resisting this force that they had, on some level, built up. And that is a very complex thing because I think that for America supporting the Afghani military at the time when the Russians were invading was something that made sense.

[26:41] - Speaker 2
And then to see that kind of turned around and hearing you talk about this in Vietnam, it's just like a really complex thing to even think about it.

[26:49] - Speaker 1
Yeah. And some folks will call it betrayal. Some folks would say it's loyalty. Yes. And also loyalty and betrayal. To which parts we should be sure to separate who we talk about, specifically not just the whole country of Afghanistan, but particular tribes or the whole country of Vietnam or the top and lower half of the top half or the French or the military or the homung. Yeah. It depends on who you're talking to. Yeah. One thing I have noticed I've seen parallels between Afghanistan and Vietnam is that the policy, the big picture policy is normally done by people who did not have a deep understanding of Vietnam to Southeast Asia or Afghanistan.

[27:39] - Speaker 1
It was folks who are not unculturated folks who were in extreme sense, you can call the Beltway bubble, right. We've heard that.

[27:46] - Speaker 2
What does that mean?

[27:47] - Speaker 1
The Beltway bubble. The Beltway is what they call. I think the general Washington, DC, area where you're in your political bubble, you're in a political Echo Chamber, think tanks. That's a bubble. And you'll have some folks who would have spent time in their respective areas of special expertise, but still, they're usually white Americans. And so I think that's a further argument for cultural exchange, whether it's international in this case or even domestic.

[28:20] - Speaker 2
And just drilling in on that. What is it that you want kids to take away from this experience?

[28:29] - Speaker 1
Several things. One, the big one is that there is a great diversity of the American experience and what you think as American is not the only way to think of as an American. And so that just gives them a wire perspective. This is a part of their lives. When their prefrontal cortex starts to develop, it won't stop developing until they're in their late 20s. However, this is when they naturally develop and start to develop a wider breadth of view to the world. And so, well, this is the time to show like, hey, the world is bigger.

[29:10] - Speaker 2
So, Tony, can you talk to me about how you select which families are going to be involved in this.

[29:15] - Speaker 1
Which kids? Yes. So it's a multi step process. The first step is that a student and their family apply together online at our site, Alix.

[29:26] - Speaker 2

[29:27] - Speaker 1
And then the applications are selected, and then we interview the student and their parents separately. And then we also run criminal background checks on any adults in the home and then conduct an inspection as necessary. And then we look at the five factors that I brought before social, economic, cultural, religious, community, region and ethnicity.

[29:59] - Speaker 2
Do you try to make the match? Do you put African Americans and African American families? Do you try to switch it up?

[30:04] - Speaker 1
It depends. We look at those five categories, and we try to change about two of them, and it's not binary, black and white. Maybe it's three if they're not that stream. But we definitely don't look to change. All the factors have complete cultural shock for the student and the host family, because you can learn a lot by just having some variable changed. And the matching process is part conversation, part decision by Alix to move the child to a place where they can have the greatest potential to grow but also get their buy in, too.

[30:42] - Speaker 1
You're going to move with his family. That family is going to move to your house. That student is going to move to your house, and it's a conversation. So everyone gets buy in both sets of parents, both sets of students.

[30:53] - Speaker 2
Can you talk a little bit about disinformation? So obviously we live in a country right now where almost half the country is in sort of like the Trump camp and thinking about conservative values and just that set of information. And then you have, like, a more progressive camp on the other side and both sides of their disinformation. One thing I find really interesting is that sort of vaccines are an interesting unifier across both Progressives and Conservatives. Sort of the extremes of both organizations or both parties have this belief that the vaccine isn't real or the vaccine causes you to hear five G towers, and those are exhibited both by people in the extremes of either side.

[31:36] - Speaker 2
And I'm just curious how you think about addressing and dealing with the disinformation that exists in both the host families and the children themselves. Like when you swap, you might take somebody's progressive and put them with a more conservative family or a conservative family with a progressive family. How do you think about addressing those sort of disinformation or information complexities.

[32:04] - Speaker 1
There'S idea around exposure therapy, where in order to get used to something, you're just exposed to it for a long time here, the families get exposure for an entire semester. In terms of disinformation, Echo Chambers are a place where people exchange information, but the other half of it is that it's not an Echo Chamber, doesn't have a lack of other opinions. Those other opinions are just discounted and muffled. And so here you're introducing a new agent into a home. That voice cannot necessarily be muffled because it's a member of your own family, even though it's a host student, it's your hosted student.

[32:49] - Speaker 1
And so here this experience gives more value to the outside opinion, because now has a face, now has a person behind that opinion. And so that's how you start to introduce legitimacy to outside opinions by giving them a face, by giving them a personal relationship.

[33:11] - Speaker 2
Can you share some examples?

[33:12] - Speaker 1
Yeah. So almost every year I have a reunion with my fellow army friends that I went to Iraq with. And since I left, some of them stayed, some of them left. And we've definitely won our own separate ways. But when we come back together at this reunion, we still can connect to each other on that level of where brothers in arms, and I find it a very powerful opportunity to reach across and talk about difficult things with these guys. Fundamentally, we're still friends, but we think very differently politically.

[33:55] - Speaker 1
And here is where we have a mutual language. This is where we challenge each other and still feel safe. You've heard code switching. We have a common code as we talk to each other. I want to duplicate that. I want to scale those sort of safe places where people of different cultures can still communicate effectively and hear each other. It could be contentious, no doubt. But at least we still regard each other as humans.

[34:33] - Speaker 2
Let me ask you, why should people donate to Alix?

[34:37] - Speaker 1
They should donate to Alex, because for one, the experience is free. It's free because we want to include all sorts of people within this program. We pay for the workshops, we pay for the coaching, we pay for the transportation, and naturally, the insurance is necessary in order to exchange these students. And it doesn't take a lot. It takes about $4,000 to exchange any one student for a semester. Four semester? Yeah. This is an experience that is pretty much like no other, and it needs to be international.

[35:13] - Speaker 1
Exchanges often exclude folks who can't afford it because you have to pay into those programs here. It's free. So if you're able to donate, please do. Because this should be accessible for all.

[35:25] - Speaker 2
How can people find out more about what you're doing?

[35:27] - Speaker 1
Please visit Alex.

[35:28] - Speaker 2
Org. Tony, thank you so much for joining us on Privacy as the New Celebrity. It's just been a wonderful experience chatting with you.

[35:48] - Speaker 1
My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

[35:56] - Speaker 3
That's all the time we have for today. Our guest has been Tony Wing, founder of the American Young Leader Exchange. Thanks for tuning in to another episode of Privacy is the New Celebrity. And don't forget to subscribe on Apple Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. We'll be back with another episode in about two weeks. In the meantime, there's more great content on mobile Coin radio. We've got a live stream of music and performances that happen every Wednesday at 12:00 p.m.. Pacific Time. You can find that on mobilecoinradio.

[36:26] - Speaker 3 
Com along with all the previous episodes of Privacy is the New Celebrity. I'm Joshua Golbard. Our producer is Sam Anderson. And this excellent song you're listening to right Now Now was composed by David Westfallen. See you next time. And remember, Privacy is a choice we deserve.