Frustrated with the world’s focus on what separates us, I set out to use my photography and journalism to explore the common humanity that connects us. Over three years, I drove forty thousand miles across the United States, asking people, “What does peace mean to you?”

It’s a simple question, but one that quickly gets to the core of who we are as human beings and what we value as a society. It opens the door to conversations about our greatest hopes and deepest fears. It leads to dialog about race, gender, faith, justice, conflict resolution, civic responsibility, and social change.

César, an undocumented Mexican immigrant, crossed the border on foot at age sixteen. Listen to the interview.

In each case, we sat down for an hour-long recorded interview, and then I took the person’s portrait. The results are shared in a book, A Peace of My Mind: American Stories, in a podcast, and in a traveling exhibit. I interviewed people from many backgrounds and walks of life, but in the following pages I’d like to introduce you to a few of the first-generation immigrants I met, who have each made this nation of immigrants a better place.

Certainly there are problems in the world that could put us at odds and turn us into enemies. But what if we shifted that focus? What if we emphasized the beauty and good in one another? What if we celebrated examples of positive change? What if we simply took the time to listen to one another?