Interview With Peter Santenello: An Innovative Story Seeker

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Interview with the Amish
Clip from “A WEEK WITH THE AMISH – 7 TAKEAWAYS” by Peter Santenello

In a Biased World, We Don’t Always Hear Different Opinions; Peter Santenello Goes Right to the People

By Christy Bogan

I had the opportunity to interview Peter Santenello, a travel writer and video content creator. He travels across the world to tell stories that aren’t always heard; a quote from his site, “I share the story, you make your own opinion”.

Meet Peter Santenello! photo from petersantenello.com
Meet Peter Santenello! photo from petersantenello.com

The world we live in always has bias and more often they tend to forget what matters and the truth of the situations. By just showing what is happening and interviewing the people, Santenello is hoping to broaden people’s opinions and be more open-minded.

With over a million subscribers on YouTube and a total of 174 million views on his entire channel, Santenello is focused on giving his viewers a new perspective to experience.

The Interview

Below is a transcription of my interview with Peter Santenello.

CB: What about the people with a deep hatred for countries despite not even going there? What would you say to those people who are incredibly close-minded?

PS: “If you look at the course of humanity and at any country, you’ll see that no country has a clean record. To hold people today accountable for atrocities of prior generations to me is unfair. We can all learn from mistakes and history, I think that’s very important.

“[The hatred we have] takes away from what is available in the world and the connections we can have with others. We hold onto something that shouldn’t be held onto.”

CB: Many of your videos show a different perspective that the media doesn’t always show. You focus on marginalized people across the world. Has there been a story where you walked away wondering if people will accept what you’ve seen? Would that story result in negative feedback and hate towards you?

PS: “Everything I do is out of my curiosity.  I’m not looking at what’s trending, I’m doing what keeps me interested. For example, if I do something about the US border, then it looks like I’m far right. When I do something about Muslims in America I can be seen as far left, so I try not to get into politics with this.

Clip from "Lifestyle Of A Hasidic Woman 🇺🇸" by Peter Sanentello
Clip from “Lifestyle Of A Hasidic Woman 🇺🇸” by Peter Sanentello

“I try to tap into issues or cultures that need to be highlighted. I did a series on the Hasidic Jews and they’re not the most popular people, but it was in a more positive light. I try to make my videos a shard of light that people can look into, to see the truth. If you have a population of 10 thousand people then you’d need to make 10 thousand stories.

“I always tell my audience that this is not the end all be all, you can make what you will from it, I just want to show people what’s happening. Sometimes I don’t agree with what my subjects are saying but this is how you understand where people are coming from.”

CB: There’s a new wave of video journalism because people don’t like to read nowadays, so this video journalism media is really popping up everywhere. Have you learned anything through this experience that has shaped the content you create?

PS: “First I want to say that I’m not a journalist. I’m in between travel blogger and journalist. A true journalist in these stories is going to grab a variety of different perspectives rather than just one.

“I’m not totally stuck on any of my ideas. For example, I was more skeptical of religion. I did a documentary series with this family and they were refugees from Russia and they had nothing. The father was a streetfighter and drug addict, but he found God and came clean. He then brought up his family in a comfortable way. From that, I can see how religion was a tool that helps people out. Now, I respect it more.

“I’ve learned how to keep open-minded and not so rigid about everything.”

CB: What does your future with this look like? Is there a full-feature-length documentary or a book in the future?

PS: “Right now I’m just focusing on putting out a video a week. A book for sure, but it’s all about time right now. I just want the content to be better, I have all these ideas and I just want to put my head down and get that.”

Growing Where We Are

His passion for making videos is incredible, I could tell he cared so much about what he did and the work he put out. He told me, “Mainstream media is very narrative based, so I try to push back against that and let people speak.”

Clip from "WESTERN UKRAINE THROUGH AMERICAN EYES (УКРАЇНСЬКІ СУБТИТРИ)" by Peter Santenello
Clip from “WESTERN UKRAINE THROUGH AMERICAN EYES (УКРАЇНСЬКІ СУБТИТРИ)” by Peter Santenello

If you put a microphone in front of someone, they will talk. Most people love to be part of an interview. Even better, if you ask them to comment on how they live and what is affecting their way of living, an even more unique story comes forward.

Peter and I were able to talk about his work, but we also talked about the state of the world and the younger generations. Before we ended the interview, Peter left me with a quote about advice.

“Travel teaches you more about where you’re from than even the place you’re going to. You’ll come back home and have something to compare it against. People talk about these huge problems, but they’ve only been in their one boiling pot of water and they have nothing to compare against.”

If you have the ability, the income, and the time to change your perspective, take it. Any form of adventure, whether it be to a new city in your state or a new continent, you’re taking that experience and learning about yourself.

Thank you, Peter Santenello for sharing a variety of stories and perspectives, we can’t wait for a book and more videos!!