Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Traveler Spotlight: Eve the Educator

Eve actually approached ME for an interview! After spotting some of the other Traveler Spotlights in the hostel, she decided that her story should be shared too. So here it is..

What are you doing in Chicago?
I have my niece’s wedding on Saturday. I think it should be pretty posh – I got a new dress! I’m also giving a talk at the Harold Washington Library this afternoon.

Oh really? What are you speaking about?
Well, I was contacted by Jerrie Wilborn to give a talk on parenting education. I’m the founder of an organization called Parents Forum, a parenting education program based on eight original questions about family life issues. It’s been around 18 years and counting.

Impressive! Is this your full-time gig?
It’s my full-time volunteer gig. I haven’t quit my day job yet. I work at MIT as an editorial assistant to a Nobel Prize winning Theoretical Physicist named Frank Wilczek. Doesn't get much more brilliant than that. He actually attended the University of Chicago.

Sounds interesting…how did you get into that job?
Well, I was an ESL teacher for awhile, but when my children were little I decided that I didn’t want to teach – I wanted to save that energy for my own kids. I had typing skills and I ended up at MIT.

So what kind of travel experience have you had?
I’ve traveled a boatload around the US for Parents Forum. I’ve also taught English in North Africa and Portugal.

Wow! Tell me more about teaching in North Africa.
Well, it was the Peace Corps era, and I got a call to service to Turkey. But then my father passed away unexpectedly and I went back home instead of joining PC. At that time I just couldn’t commit to the 2 years of service. Luckily, I had a back-up job in Tunisia, where I spent one year. I came back to the States, got a graduate degree in French, then ended up teaching ESL in Cambridge.

So what did you take from that experience?
I learned French very well. It gave me a bigger picture of the world. I also made some lifelong friends, one who I’ve just reconnected with recently.

And how did you end up in Portugal?
My husband had a sabbatical and we ended up there – he was supposed to be learning Portuguese, but guess who ended up being the one to learn? (laughs and points at herself). We also took our two oldest sons. So they are official “Global Nomads.”

What do you mean by Global Nomad?
That’s anyone under the age of 18 who has lived for a year or more out of their passport country. They used to be called "3rd Culture Kids", but it was decided that didn’t convey what this experience gives to, and takes from them. We all have a strong sense of being from a certain place. You get a different sense of your place as a Global Nomad. You’re more ready to make friends, but perhaps less confident in making long, life-term friendships.

Sounds like you’ve got a lot of international experience, both abroad and with foreigners in your home country.
Yes, very much so. I also provide a host family for international students. I’ve taken in host sons who I become a mentor to. The latest is from Burkina Faso. He just got his master’s degree in Economics, we’re so proud of him!

How long do the visiting students stay with you?
The longest was our host son from Ethiopa. He lived with us for 3-4 years of college and then he came back after college.

Is your entire family supportive of taking in host children?
Oh yes. My entire family of 3 sons and my husband are supportive. It’s armchair travel. It has been great for them; it gives them a sense of the world and their place in the world. They’ve gained the ability and willingness to set aside cultural misconceptions.

That’s great. So what do you like about staying at hostels?
I’m in the minority as an older person. I like the chance to conversate with people. I assume I’ll be surrounded by friends or people that will soon be my friends! For example, at breakfast I sat down with a couple of people from China and had a great time getting to know them. Waiting in line to check in, a guy from LA asked if it was my first time staying at a hostel, which led to eating lunch together. It’s just really neat.

Sounds like you have a great attitude!
Oh yeah. I recently got invited to a conference in Iran, and I was unsure if I’d go because of all the difficulties getting a visa and what not. Finally I decided to go after my son said, “Mom, you make friends where ever you go. Just GOOO!”

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