Oh, to be young again. Three travelers were selected via an online vote to go on a year-long adventure that took them through 186 countries covering 275,000 miles. This event was Coca-Cola’s Expedition 206. The participants were Tony from Munich, Germany; Kelly from Martelange, Belgium, and Antonio from Mexico City, Mexico.
The goal of this boondoggle was to what makes people happy around the world. Upon their return to Atlanta, I caught up with them for this interview.
Q: Cutting to the chase, what makes people happy around the world?
A: Family and friends, food, sports, music, health… those are the main answers we have gotten. It’s all about sharing with others.
Q: Nobody mentioned money?
A: Very, very few people mentioned money. When they did, it wasn’t about loads of money for the sake of buying stuff or being rich. It was more about having more money for the freedom to travel more or spend more time with friends and family and things like that.
Q: Do you think that people are more different or more similar around the world?
A: People definitely have more things in common than differences. Whether you’re in Asia, South America or Europe you have the same idea of what makes you happy.
Q: If you could give Barack Obama one piece of advice, what would it be?
A: Our experience showed us the power of bringing people and countries together by finding shared experiences and making meaningful connections. That sort of bonding helps break down barriers. That’s probably just as true for one-to-one personal connections as it is for bigger-picture relationship building.
Q: What was the most enchanting country that you visited?
A: This is a tough question because each time we think of this, many countries come to mind. I would say maybe some of the Asian countries because they have such a mystical, um, enchanting feel to them. We really liked Japan and Thailand. The feel of those places and their cultures are really something special.
Q: Which country has the best looking women?
A: The eastern European countries definitely have some of the best women in the world. The former Yugoslavia countries have one of the highest concentrations of unbelievably beautiful women in the world. Lebanon isn’t so bad either.
Q: Which country has the best looking men?
A: In Latin America there are some sexy men around. They are also the best dancers! We that found the highest percentage of of handsome men is in the Scandinavian countries.
Q: Which country has the best Internet access?
A: Europe, some parts of Asia, and the U.S.
Q: Which country would you pick to live in?
A: Kelly: I would like to live in Argentina and the Netherlands.
Tony: Germany, Croatia, and Thailand. Antonio: Japan and Iceland.
Q: Does Coke taste the same everywhere?
A: Drinking an ice cold Coke from a bottle on the beach in Tahiti is a different experience from pouring Coke over a glass of ice in a place like Canada.
Watch this video to watch people from around the world explain what happiness means. All of us at the OPEN Forum hope that you achieve happiness in 2011!