Growing up as a military brat, I have traveled all my life. I know, like most travelers, that there is nothing to fear about being in a strange place. Being used to foreign countries, I just get on airplanes and figure it out from there. I know so many people who have done so much more travel than me. ... but this is my story and it's not so bad.
I traveled through Africa in 2003. Including Tanzania, Kenya, and Nigeria.
I traveled to Guatemala and Honduras in 2005.
From 2007 to 2009 I moved to Seoul, Korea from Austin, Texas to teach in Korean schools. I needed a change in my life and this certainly fit the bill. Life was good... free apartment in a great part of Seoul, and I was able save money while living in the city. I traveled around on weekends and holidays to see the country when I could and find out what's there.
I moved to Moldova for a year in 2009 -2010. I'm still working on getting those blogs written.
I volunteered in a Montessori school in Guatemala City for the summer of 2012.
I'm currently back in Guatemala City this summer and I've raised funds to bring badly needed classroom materials and teach the teachers for the school I volunteered for last year.
June 25th 2013
Last night, while I was in my little office, I heard gunshots. In my mind I told myself it was just the regular nightly firecrackers in the street. I heard a lot of commotion in the street and I told myself, "No, they are just celebrating something." But then I went upstairs to the volunteer’s quarters and the other volunteers asked me if I had heard the shots. They said they saw someone down the street get carried away in an ambulance and blood on the street. I've heard shots before, but I have been far enough away that I couldn't know what happened. I asked about it today and one of the teachers told me it was a 10-year-old boy who had been shot by gang members. He died in the hospital. He had 12-year-old ... read more
June 19th 2013
I am loving being here. It felt like coming home... only better. I arrived I Guatemala City and collected the boxes of donated materials I brought from baggage, and sailed through customs in 10 minutes with only one box opened and a "Welcome to Guatemala". Rolling the boxes outside, I was met by two women from UPAVIM who treated me like a princess. They took me by the bank to get my money changed and stopped to get a drink... I was VERY thirsty. I really didn't expect anyone to notice that I was coming back. I certainly didn't expect the royal treatment! Arriving at UPAVIM, there were lots of hugs and kisses and "¡Bienvenidos!". Last year, I really should have paid attention to those around me, because I didn't remember some of the ... read more
June 18th 2013
I added a lot of people to my blog subscription list. If you are receiving this blog and do not want to get it, then feel free to unsubscribe. My feelings won't be hurt. So after planning and thinking about this trip for close to a year, it has finally come time to go. Last summer I went to Guatemala City to volunteer at UPAVIM Montessori Children's Center which is a Montessori pre-school in in the impoverished La Esperanza area on the south side of Guatemala City. The school is funded and supported by UPAVIM which is a women's ... read more
September 17th 2012
When I arrived in Guatemala, I was unsure what I would be doing here. I hoped to volunteer for UPAVIM – Unidas Para Vivir Major (United for a Better Life), which is a cooperative of 80 women who make fair trade Guatemalan crafts to sell to the US. They also have a soy dairy and bakery in which they sell low cost, high quality foods to the community. With these two industries they fund a medical clinic, a Montessori(ish) preschool, and an elementary school all in the same building. It’s a wonderful place. I wasn’t totally sure what I had to offer would even be needed. I only knew that I had seen pictures of UPAVIM Montessori, and being a trained Montessori teacher, I wanted to see it for myself. My second day here, I observed ... read more
August 27th 2012
The last time I visited to Panajachel (2005), I only saw a tourist trap. Booth after booth with tourist kitsch for sale with jacked up prices line the streets. Many of the items are made in China. This time I stayed with my friend Maria who has a house in Panajachel, but also lives in Texas. We flew down to Guatemala together and she invited me to visit her in Pana. Maria is originally from Guatemala, and even in the States dresses in traditional Mayan clothing. This was a wonderful chance to see her on her own turf and I got to see Panajachel from Maria’s point of view and it totally changed my experience of the town. She has a nice house with a gorgeous garden and a breathtaking view from her roof. Just hanging ... read more
August 23rd 2012
I want to see at least little of Guatemala while I’m here and I had the opportunity to stay with a friend in Panajachel. A guy I know told me I could go with him and he could show me how to get to the bus. He had a couple of meetings in towns along the way but said I could tag along. I decided that in order to not inconvenience him, I would check into a room at his hotel so we could go together early in the morning. Once I checked into the hotel, I found my friend who told me that I would slow him down on a hike up to a finca (farm) and that I would have to wait for him in the villages while he went to his meetings. Basically ... read more
August 22nd 2012
I’ve been helping out in a class in a Montessori based kindergarten here at UPAVIM which has been an exciting experience for me. This is a school not unlike the school Maria Montessori started in the slums of Rome in 1906. There aren't many materials, but a great interest in improving the lives of children in a poor neighborhood. These teachers here have little Montessori training and not very many materials, but a hunger to learn. I am by no means a qualified Montessori trainer, but as a Montessori trained teacher I can pass on some of my knowledge and help present some materials. They seem so happy to get some new information and direction. I’m hoping that I can help point them in the right direction and lead them to information that will inspire them ... read more
August 19th 2012
Note: Anything highlighted in blue is a link to another website – mostly the organizations I’m mentioning in this blog. Last time I came to Guatemala I, like most tourists, headed out of Guatemala City within a couple of days and went to Xela, Antigua and Lago de Atitlán. I had no interest in this busy, dirty, polluted city. This time I came to Guatemala City because of a project called Karen’s Soy Nutrition Project (KSNP), which I have been hearing about for two years. With nothing going on for me in the States, I decided it was a good idea to come see the good works down here. I tagged along with a friend, Chuck, who came here to work on the project. Arrival The first night we arrived, we took a taxi to a ... read more
August 8th 2012
I was moving my blog from one website to another. This was an entry from 2005. Sorry to clog up you email boxes.... read more
August 17th 2009
When I found out that I would have a flight connection in Vienna on my way to Moldova for my new job, I was thrilled. I had lived here in 1981- 82 and had worked here as an au pair girl. I had a pretty good life here and had left with so many good memories. I started making plans to stay a few days and renew good memories. A short history I worked with a family doing housework, taking care of the kids, and being an English speaking influence in the family in exchange for room and board and pocket money. In my free time, I took German lessons at a Volksschule (school) and put a lot of effort into enjoying my life as a young woman here. I met other au pair girls and ... read more