Alum illustrates book
When Steven Weinberg graduated from the Hill in 2006 with a dual degree in art and government, he had a plan. He knew he was going to travel with his girlfriend, and he knew he was going to teach, but Weinberg couldn't predict that his adventures would allow him to publish a book just four years out of college.
Weinberg, a Bethesda, Maryland native, and his girlfriend, Casey Scieszka, met while studying abroad in Morocco during their junior year. Scieszka, a sociology major at Pitzer College in California, and Weinberg kept in touch when they returned to the United States. Both loved to travel and "by the end of our senior year," Weinberg said, "we were like, 'Let's go live together.'"
The duo began what evolved into a two-year-long journey in the fall of 2006. They spent six months in China teaching English and traveling through southeast Asia, at which point Scieszka discovered that she received a Fulbright to study socioeconomic systems in west Africa. As a result, she and Weinberg spent 10 months in Mali. Weinberg took advantage of this time to practice his love for art by painting local people.
When they returned home in the fall of 2008, the couple decided to publish an account of their global adventure. To Timbuktu, the fruit of their efforts, was written by Scieszka and illustrated by Weinberg. "It's a corny love story," Weinberg admits. "It really is us totally falling in love with each other. But it's also a coming of age story—and a travel story. It's about making a home anywhere."
Weinberg attributes much of his success to his time at the College. "People are always surprised by how much their major does influence what they do," Weinberg said, pointing out that he's a prime example of said phenomenon. "Professors like David Simon opened my eyes to so many different visual styles—and with my [government major] I had a perfect combination of writing and drawing all the time."
In addition to the dedicated professors of the art department, Weinberg also credits the Echo with fostering his career as an illustrator. Although he was Editor-In-Chief of the Echo for one semester, he also enjoyed his position as cartoonist. "The Echo was a great way to see yourself in print and see what it means. It's a great paper. I really figured out how to draw for print by being a cartoonist."
In addition to having incredible experiences while they lived abroad, Weinberg and Scieszka were able to use what they learned to make careers for themselves when they returned and settled down in Brooklyn, NY. Though they are both self-employed, Weinberg explained that he's "a professional illustrator now, and Casey's a professional writer."
Although To Timbuktu, due to hit shelves in March 2011, is essentially a picture book, it was written with college-aged students in mind. "We're talking to an audience that's basically our age. Go live abroad," Weinberg said. "Don't just backpack through [a country]. Really live somewhere and focus on what's going on around you."