It all started, Ken Suzuki says, back in 1989 when he visited the Berlin Wall.

Suzuki, who was 14 and on a school trip at the time, was allowed to cross into East Germany because he had a Japanese passport. Along the way, he saw a memorial for a family who’d been shot trying to get to the West. If they’d waited a few months, he thought, they wouldn’t be dead. That November, the wall came down.

"It was such a huge shock,” Suzuki said in an interview, speaking of his trip. "It made me think about why such absurd walls have to exist.”