What to Expect
Backyard Global was originally founded in March 2016 as a collaborative project to recommend TV, movies, music, food, and sometimes video games or books from around the world, available to the average American via the Internet.
Everything recommended on this site is available on a major streaming service, online retailers, or at an average supermarket with the expectation that anyone, anywhere, and with almost any budget can learn about cultures around the world.
Backyard Global is now run solely by its founder, Ian Magnuson, as a creative outlet that encourages him to keep trying new things. While the pace is slower, the mission is the same: explore the world, no passport required!
Who and Why
I’m Ian and I’ve had an interest in other worlds and cultures since an early age. While it might fit this site better if it was movies, music, or travel, my real source of interest were video games like Age of Empires and Civilization (and maybe a social studies teacher parent). I eventually came around to liking international films and music while attending Western Michigan University.
During my studies, I was founding member of the revived German Club and a co-founder of the local Model United Nations, an experience only made possible by studying abroad in Bonn, Germany and doing an international model UN there. After returning, I worked in the study abroad office and the Haenicke Institute for Global Education for three years. I helped internationalize the student experience on campus and worked closely with visiting Fulbright students and sometimes foreign dignitaries (sometimes small countries send people to provincial Kalamazoo). I was happy to graduate in 2014 with a B.A. in German and International Studies, focusing my capstone on the short-lived German Pirate Party – they lost their last major election bid literally the same day I decided to study them!
After undergrad, I worked for a year in Detroit where I applied for and received (after my second attempt) a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Leipzig, Germany. I co-taught middle and high school students English at two university preparatory schools and achieved my main objective of undergrad – get someone else to pay for me to travel and live abroad! I met a lot of smart students and colleagues in the program who have gone off to do tons of neat things themselves. While there, I started a previous-version of this site (read: a little too grand in scale and purpose). I continued to run it through my first year of graduate school at Michigan State University where I eventually decided to put it on hiatus. At MSU, I studied public policy and after briefly looking into immigration and foreign policy, landed on local climate policy for my focus – I saw cloudy Germany covered in solar panels and windmills and wondered why not Michigan?
After graduating in 2018, I moved back to Kalamazoo and currently work at a nonprofit, serve as vice chair on the local environmental committee, swim on the local Masters team and bowl terribly with friends in a beer league. I still play Civilization (and stream on Twitch sometimes) and live with my cat, Hobbes.
Fundamentally, Backyard Global exists because I like to write, I like trying new things, and I want to share opportunities for people who, like me, want to explore the world in every way possible.