National Geographic star visits UTPA
Contact: Lori Ann Prado, Intern 292-7311
Posted: 06/18/2008
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Leon Logothetis, star of the National Geographic Channel's "The Amazing Adventures of a Nobody," made a guest appearance Monday, June 16 at The University of Texas-Pan American.

Leon Logothetis, star of the National Geographic Channel's "The Amazing Adventures of a Nobody," paid a special visit to UTPA students June 16. Logothetis met with students and faculty from the Department of Communication.
Logothetis spoke to students at 11 a.m. and to the public at 7 p.m. about his adventures and the importance of gaining lifelong experiences. His show, "The Amazing Adventures of a Nobody," features Logothetis's attempt to cross Europe with only five euros a day, "relying only on the kindness of strangers." Surprising most, including himself, the mission was accomplished, reaching Red Square in Moscow from a starting point in Paris.

Logothetis made some acquaintances during his voyage including UTPA Radio/TV/Film Specialist Chelse Benham. She was traveling with a group of UTPA Honors Program study abroad students, filming a documentary in Eastern Europe about their experience, and took sympathy on the stranger. Along with her husband, Dr. Grant Benham of the UTPA psychology department, they housed Logothetis one night in their hotel room, and became very interested in his journey. The Honors Program's group of 43 made a deal with Logothetis. They bought him a train ticket to Berlin, giving a euro per person, and in exchange Logothetis made a promise to visit the University.

"I think he articulates so well the benefits of travel for people. He says he is appreciative of his life when he gets back home; he is generous with people and much more tolerant of the differences among people. He loves adventure and the idea of never giving up. I think he's an inspiration to people," Benham said.

Logothetis spoke to the students about the many times he felt extreme mental stress and wanted to quit throughout his journey in Europe and his similar experiences in America and England. He also offered to give anyone $5 if they could guess his favorite quote by Winston Churchill that kept him focused.

"'Keep buggering on.' It means, don't give up," Logothetis said.

Logothetis explained that his primary purpose for what he wanted to accomplish was to connect to people and rely entirely on their generosity. He found that language barriers were difficult to overcome in foreign countries where English wasn't spoken, and in poor countries he felt gratitude for what he had, explaining to students the many luxuries in America that some might take for granted.

"Among the lessons I try to get the students to realize when they travel on study abroad is the degree of competence they have while traveling in a strange country regardless of whether they know the language or not. I think this is a tremendous confidence builder. It also teaches the students the need to take acceptable risks in life. Our students travel with a good deal of money, travel and lodging arrangements are made for them, and there is a degree of chaperoning that occurs with faculty being on hand. However, Leon travels with none of these conveniences and, despite setbacks, uncertainty, stress and craziness, is able to traverse a continent on as little as five euros a day," said Dr. Kenneth Buckman, director of the UTPA Honors Program.

Students were also able to take part in a question and answer session with Logothetis, displaying their feelings toward his travels.

"I was definitely intrigued by him. He inspired me to challenge myself and to become more adventurous, in hopes of finding who I am to pursue my goals and never give up," said 21-year-old senior Kathy Castaneda of Edinburg.