My Story

Carol at Qutb Minar, Delhi, India

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to travel.

In 1972 when I was a Sophomore at Bourgade Catholic Central high School in Phoenix, Arizona, I decided that I needed to act on my dreams. I traveled to Mexico City as an exchange student for two months. I was immersed into the culture with very little knowledge of the language. I quickly picked it up and soaked up the culture, fell in love with the food and the people. I returned to high school and suffered through the boring Spanish class that really taught me nothing about culture or language.

Two years later I graduated from high school enrolled at Arizona University and left after one semester. Classroom learning was not in my immediate plans at that time. I returned to Mexico City to live with the same host family. After two months I decided that I wanted to live on my own and get a job. Really? I was only 18 and living in a huge city and not able to communicate very well with those around me. I picked up an English newspaper, looked very carefully through the classified ads and found the job just for me. Needed: A native English speaker to teach business English. No experience necessary. That’s me! I said to myself. I found the school and walked into the office and announced that I was a native English speaker with no experience. They told me to fill out the form and the next day I had a job. Wow! That was the beginning of a forty-two-year career of teaching English as a Second Language.

My life in Mexico was an adventure and a jumping off point for what was to come. I was eventually told to leave Mexico because I had become an illegal immigrant unless I got married. That was not going to happen. A friend and fellow teacher of mine drove me across the border of Mexico and smuggled me back into Arizona. That move saved me a lot of money.

My next adventure was to complete the necessary credits that would grant me a degree in teaching English as a Second Language. I landed in Cedar Falls, Iowa and began my studies. Life was not easy because I was paying for my own education. I worked part time on campus and had some money saved in the bank. I met my husband in less than 8 months at the University of Northern Iowa. His English was minimal, but his smile was big. He was from Japan and I couldn’t speak Japanese. It was a very interesting courtship which lasted about five months before we tied the knot. He was then assigned to return to Japan. That was adventure 2. He returned to Japan ahead of me because he had to warn his parents about the American wife he had just married. I arrived alone on a very dark night with so many different smells, sights, and sounds that I soon became accustomed to. We traveled for almost two hours by train to reach our destination, Toyohashi, Japan. We spent five years in Japan. My husband was transferred to Battle Creek, Michigan to help open up a factory which would produce air conditioners and heaters for Toyota. That was adventure 3. We lived in Michigan for 27 years.

Michigan was where we raised our family, worked, and made many friends. The only downfall for me was that is was too cold and I hated the snow. I applied for a job in 2010 at Arizona State University. That was adventure 4. I have worked at ASU for almost six years and will retire in December 2016. I am now ready for adventures 5, 6,7,8, etc. I am taking both writing and photography classes to help me share my stories with others.

An adventure is often better when you can share. I want to share with all of you and hope that maybe you can join me someday.

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