I didn’t travel out of the U.S. until my early 20s, when I dropped out of grad school to attend a workshop in Cuernavaca, Mexico, by radical educators Paulo Friere and Ivan Illich. I was definitely one of the so-called lefties who drifted back-to-the-land in the early 1970s, weaving and cycling in the valleys of Wisconsin’s Iowa County. At Folklore Village Farm near Ridgeway, a small folk-arts center, I fell under the spell of gnome-like gardener, festival planner, folk dancer, rustic-roads romantic Jane Farwell, who became my mentor. Her passions pushed me toward a summer of folk dance in Poland, then a full year of dance and village exploration in Dalarna, the folk heart of Sweden.
Professionally, I found always-interesting jobs, a “lateral jumper” to positions in schools, media, and state government, each one leading to wider-ranging paths of travel. I think many colleagues in the state education office where I worked at the time gasped as I took off suddenly, at age 59, for a late-in-life Peace Corps assignment to a country in southern Africa – Lesotho – that few, including me, had ever heard of. Lesotho was only one of many less-visited countries that awaited me after that.
My formal resume looks like this, but in truth, each bullet point camouflages the more interesting stories ~ adventures, regrets, loves, missed opportunities, foolish choices ~ the things I’ll now write about.
- Served as Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI)’s first state-level International Education Consultant, 1990-2006
- Trained teachers, built Sister State / Sister relationships, created global studies curriculum
- Served as liaison to Superintendent-Governor level International Education Council and organized International Education Summits for educators, youth, business leaders
- Recognized with national awards to DPI by Goldman Sachs Foundation Award for State Leadership and Council of Chief State School Officers for International Education
- Named Global Educator of the Year by Friends of International Education
- Traveled to 64 countries, studied six languages
- Wrote Guide to International Education, a state agency “first”
- Studied Psychology and Education at Grinnell College, Iowa and University of Wisconsin-Madison. All-but-dissertation Ph.D., Curriculum and Instruction
- Peace Corps Volunteer to Lesotho, Africa’s “Mountain Kingdom
- Peace Corps Director of Programming and Training, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan
- Professional member, presenter, and key-note speaker for Wisconsin Council for the Social Studies, Rotary International District 5, Wisconsin Association For Language Teachers, Wisconsin International Education Association, Wisconsin-Chiba, Inc (Japan Sister State)