Because I have a hard time deleting anything I write (seriously, I need an editor), I have created this separate page for the timeline I originally wrote for the “About” page. It was up there for awhile, but then I as with anything I write, I wanted to change it. So, since I have trouble deleting something I put a ton of time into and is still not too bad and other bloggers “liked”, I decided to keep it and link it separately. So, here ya go for you nosy peeps who want to know more about me!
P.S. There’s nothing wrong with being nosy – I’m nosy and love to learn all there is to know about other bloggers.
Elizabeth’s Timeline of Personal Transformation through Travel:
1981: I came to being in Spokane, WA (although I’m sure my childhood in the Inland NW is probably interesting to some – ahem, my parents – it’s probably not as interesting to folks here)
1995: My first overseas trip to Chile. My mom had work down there, so I made a deal with my parents that if I started taking Spanish, I could go with them. I guess this is where the travel bug bit me because I at least vowed to study abroad in Chile in college (and you’ll see I made good on that promise)
1999: Went to college in Salem, OR (Willamette University – for the non-northwesterners, I’ll give you my classic description: “It’s a small liberal arts university just south of Portland”, ‘nuf said)
2000: My friend and I backpacked Europe for 3 weeks and engaged in the normal backpacker activities: visiting museums and drinking alcohol legally (we were only 19 mind you). Now this is seriously when the travel bug bit me. I give much credit to my parents who wanted to afford me and my sisters these kind of opportunities which they didn’t have growing up. I’m a lucky and privileged gal to have parents like them.
2001: My first living abroad experience! Study Abroad in Quito, Ecuador during the Fall semester of my junior year of college. One of the most eye-opening and amazing things in my life. Some highlights: Swam with tortoises in the Galapagos, discovered my love of indigenous markets, had an Ecuadorian boyfriend, became fluent in Spanish (probably credited to the aforementioned boyfriend), participated in the celebrations of Ecuador’s first-ever qualification for the World Cup, had the best homestay family in the whole wide world, and experienced the incredibly ruins of Macchu Picchu (during a side trip to Peru).
2002: Made good on my promise to return to live in Chile by studying abroad in Valparaiso (spring of my junior year of college). Another amazing experience. Highlights of that time: Hiked in Patagonia and saw the Torres del Paine, lived with 3 Chilean guys (my Chilean brothers as I know them now), and became seriously fluent in Spanish (I was badass at Chilean slang). I came back and somehow was convinced by my work-study boss (the Director of the Career Center) to apply for Peace Corps
2003-2004: Graduated from college, tore my ACL (for those uninitiated, that’s in my kneed), was deferred from Peace Corps (this was a blow to my jobless recent-college grad psyche), got surgery, lived at home in Spokane working at a restaurant and moved to Missoula, MT for several months (on a whim, really…oh I wish I had the kind of freedom I had at 22), deferment from Peace Corps lifted and was offered a spot to Malawi, Southeastern Africa.
June 2004-July 2006: Peace Corps in Malawi, Southeastern Africa. I won’t spoil the posts for you because this is more or less where the blog picks up. But, as most RPCVs (returned Peace Corps volunteers) say, it was these two years that have honestly made me the person that I am today. My view of the world, my culture, my privilege and my future shifted severely. I credit my critical view of the world today and my advocacy for social justice to this period of time. You’ll see that lens manifested in a bunch of my posts, I’m sure.
2006: Oh, ya know, went through the natural crazy shift of re-entry to the U.S. where I struggled with my identity and how much change happened to me in the two years I spent overseas. Probably one of the most challenging periods of my life. Because of my critique of foreign aid and how it didn’t really correspond with the ideal liberal values, I had a hard time expressing how I felt about the world and social justice issues. Eventually, I opted for not talking about that kind of stuff with anyone except other RPCVs.
2007: Moved to Washington, DC and worked for Peace Corps as a recruiter.
2008: While still living in DC, I went to grad school for International Ed Policy at the University of Maryland with the intent to possibly work with college students in study abroad (maybe). Very fortuitously, I ended up in a grad program that had the same critical lens that I had, but it was backed up by theory and practice. This is where I got my voice for social justice back because there was actual research and actual credible people working to make change through alternative international and educational initiatives. I started to realize that I had a passion for grassroots social action and giving a voice to the marginalized and I began to call myself a socialist (well, a democratic socialist).
2008-2011: Also around this time, I started to learn about service-learning as an educational pedagogy. I became involved with Alternative Breaks (and eventually ran the program at UMD) which are short-term programs that send students locally, nationally and internationally to conduct community service and engage in educational activities around social justice issues. These trips are not meant to solve problems in themselves, but if done well, they can be catalysts for college students to become involved social justice advocacy and action by gaining a sense of the structural inequalities. (This period also solidified my future as never being able to describe my job in one word or sentence…I guess it was worth it). To learn more about Alternative Breaks, you can read some of my yet-to-be-written posts or check out the following resources:
- Break Away: The National Alternative Breaks Connection
- The chapter I wrote about Alternative Breaks in a book a couple years ago
- The Haiti Compact (you can read more at the website) and don’t forget to check out the report.
Through Alternative Breaks (AB), I traveled with students to Peru and Guatemala and set up programs in Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru and Haiti (which included site visits to Guatemala and Haiti). Although a lot of what I did was international site development, the 25+ trips during the time I was there were majority domestic. I loved the international work, but at the same time, I had more of an interest and passion of doing more work for change locally (or at least wherever local was for me at the time). Which brought me to where I am now…
2012: Moved to Baltimore, MD where I still work in higher education service-learning, but on the local side (very local!) and also more on the classroom side. I don’t miss the travel and the logistical crap from Alternative Breaks, but the experience I gained there was valuable.