Anderson began correspondence with HPU’s Vice President of
Administration, E. Rick Stepien, via e-mail. Stepien gave him
permission to set up camp here. “I needed a homebase,” Anderson
said of his affiliation with the university.
Anderson graduated from Michigan State University with a degree
in accounting. While looking at graduate schools on the mainland,
he began asking himself, “Where do I see myself in 10 years.”
Knowing he wanted to eventually pursue politics, but still a
bit unsure about the best route to follow, he decided to blaze
a trail of his own. Armed with a laptop, video camera, and some
charisma, he set out to learn about America and write a book
The past several years have been tumultuous and exciting for
this country and Anderson has seen more than most. He worked
on George W. Bush’s campaign for reelection of the Texas governor
in 1998. He was a Red Cross volunteer during the September 11th
tragedy, which he said “Was one of the most important things
I’ve ever done in my life.”
Anderson has also witnessed aspects of this country that are
often swept under the rug or isolated to remote areas of the
community. After just two weeks on the island, he has already
found his way to impoverished rural O‘ahu. His pictures of the
beautiful Waianae Coast showcased something not so beautiful:
a homeless woman living on the beach with her toddler.
Researching his book has been an effort entirely without frills.
He never knows where he’ll end up, and he relies, he said, on
“wonderful families and friends that I meet along the way.”
Recently he’s been staying with Ken Onion and family. Onion
resides in Kapolei and is “America’s number 1 knife designer”
Anderson said, adding that he creates everything from kitchen
knives to collector’s items.
Though Anderson has had significant attention from the media
he’s been interviewed by CNN and the Sacramento Bee to name
a few—his mission, from the start, has been to “blend in.” Achieving
celebrity status is not one of his goals. “I don’t need to hype
myself up, right now,” he said.
Anderson’s book will be narrated from a first-person perspective.
He has limited financial backing, enough for 5,000 copies, and
therefore plans to publish the book independently. He expects
to have completed the book by the end of the semester and then
to release it this summer. Though he may consider larger publishing
contracts in the future, he said he’s “not about the money.”