Monthly Archives: July 2012

How to be Global from Home

With my 75th post yesterday, I went back and read through my blog. As I did, some things stuck out. I recognized some patterns and themes in how I’ve been global from home. These certainly aren’t all the ways to bring your experiences from abroad back with you, but for me, these have been a good way to start.

1. Reflect on my abroad experiences

When I started this blog, I realized that there were lots of experiences from abroad that I had not really thought about again. Through postcards to Grandma, reminiscing with friends, and drawing comparisons with my every day life, my reflections from my abroad experiences has been one of the best ways I’ve been global from home.

2. Interact with people who love culture/travel as much as I do

Since I can’t live abroad right now, I like to live vicariously through others. The Abroad Blog of the Week has been my best way of interacting with others who are abroad living out what I can only imagine right now.

3. Help others experience culture or adjust to mine

For me, this mostly plays out by being a study abroad advisor. I love helping others explore where they want to go and really prepare for their time abroad.  I’ve also realized that it’s important to help those who are new to my culture. Volunteering with the local refugee community or with organizations like Cup of Local Sugar are a few ways to pay it forward.

4. Eat and cook with culture in mind

My first Friday Lunch was a shameless ploy to get students to come visit me during the summer, but it turned out to be a great way for me to explore foods of other cultures (and try to make them without a kitchen). Hubby and I have also increased our ethnic dining and I promise to cook more internationally once we are settled in OKC.

5. Practice my language skills

My Italian is definitely an area of being global from home that I need to work on, but I have a plan!

6. Global reads and foreign films

With the start of my regional reading list and some great Netflix finds, I feel like I’m learning so much more about countries that I may never have a chance to explore myself.

7. Creatively incorporate travel and culture into my physical surroundings

Whether it be maps, pictures, traditions, or crafts, I’m trying to incorporate visual reminders of the cultures and experiences that I so love.

On May 16th when I posted for the first time, I had an itch I was trying to satisfy. Having not left the country in over 3 years, I felt frustrated that I was not doing something that I really enjoy. This blog has certainly soothed that itch; it has made me intentional about looking at the world 30 miles from my door and seeing all the culture available to me. I’m excited to see where it takes me next.

Molcajete Recipes

When Hubby and I got married two years ago my cousin got us a molcajete from Williams Sonoma. We had recently discovered that we loved guacamole and were so excited to make it “the real” way. That is all I’ve ever used my molcajete for. As far as we were concerned, molcajete = guacamole maker. But now that we’re in Mexico, we’ve discovered it has a lot more uses than to just make awesome guac. In addition to having guacamole made at our table, we’ve also enjoyed freshly-made salsa and stew made and served in a molcajete. Newly aware of its additional uses, I thought I would do some recipe research to share.  Here’s what I’ve found:

Rudy’s Molcajete Mixto Recipe – a mixed grill of carne asada, nopales, chicken, shrimp, jalapenos, and chorizo sausage served with queso fresco, avocado, and lime

Mexican Style Meat and Vegetable Stew – a chicken, flank steak, and bacon in a tomato based broth

Seafood Molcajete Recipe – shrimp, scallops, and chicken sausage  served hot and spicy in the molcajete

Currently our molcajete is in a storage unit in Augusta, Georgia but once it’s out, I promise to try these and share how they go.

Have any molcajete recipes to share?

Courtesy of davedworkin.com. My own pics are still to come!

Friday’s Olympian to Watch: Guillermo Pérez Sandoval

On our last full day in Mexico, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight one of their star athletes for this week’s Olympian to Watch. After asking around and doing some research, I was surprised to find out that Mexico excels in Taekwondo. In fact, in the 2008 Olympics they took home two gold medals in the sport. One of those medalists was Guillermo Pérez Sandoval, who will be returning to Olympic Games this year in London.

Guillermo started his career in Taekwondo at the young age of 5, inspired by Bruce Lee movies. His successes came early with his first big win at age 10 which threw him into the international competition circuit. With his win in the 2008 Olympics, Guillermo became a national hero. With only 55 medals in the country’s history, he has become one of the elite athletes and has gained a great deal of notoriety. Upon his Olympic win, Guillermo told interviewers that the Mexican president called him and said he was the pride of their country. The president of Mexico’s World Taekwondo Federation also credits Guillermo and Maria Espinoza’s Olympic wins for the growing popularity of the sport in Mexico. There are now over 1.5 million people who practice the sport.

Olympic Sport: Taekwondo

Hometown: Uruapan, Mexico

Birthdate: October 14, 1979 (age 32)

Height: 5’7″ (8 inches taller than me)

Weight: 127 lbs.

Read more about Guillermo Pérez Sandoval at:

Abroad Blog of the Week: Partners for Peace

I came upon Partners for Peace about a month ago when I did a tag search for Peace Corps. While I don’t know that the Peace  ever fit into my life, I do love reading about others who have delved into the two-year journey. For Mari and Paul of Partners for Peace, this adventure has taken this married couple from NYC to Palmar, Ecuador. Despite connectivity issues, M&P post regularly and give a ton of detail about being a Peace Corps Volunteer. I first started reading their blog when they were opening a pizza parlor in Palmar (great posts), but since have gone back and read their engagement story and process of applying for and getting placed with the Peace Corps. If you are even contemplating the Peace Corps, Mari and Paul’s blog is definitely one to read.

I caught up with Mari and Paul this week via email to ask them a few questions about their lives in Ecuador with the Peace Corps. See what they had to say!

What are the best/most challenging aspects of your Peace Corps assignments?

MARI: One of the best aspects of my Peace Corps assignment is that I am able to combine several of my skills and passions into individual projects. For example, I am working with a women’s artisan cooperative called Mujeres Cambia (http://mujerescambia.com). Members of the group make incredible hand-made jewelry out of recycled paper. You can’t tell by looking at it that it is made from paper. Most people think the beads are made of glass, ceramic, or wood but they really are made of paper! I am able to share my love for making things with my hands (I used to be the executive director of an arts nonprofit in Brooklyn, New York) at the same time I am able to design promotional materials and a marketing strategy for the group. Further, I am constantly motivated as the women learn new business skills like branding, accounting, promotions, and inventory.

One of the more challenging aspects of service is that while we act as catalysts for change we are also forced to change a lot in our current context, too. For instance, I was used to being a very independent woman in New York City – walking around alone, sharing household chores with my husband, traveling wherever and whenever I wanted, working outside of the home – and many of these activities are less common for women in my particular town. I am in the privileged position of being from somewhere else so I am given a pass on most of these things but I am often the exception acting in this way.

PAUL:  The reason I joined the Peace Corps is that I wanted to do something different with my life. Mari and I were happy in NYC but we were restless and looking for adventure. We wanted to live abroad, learn a language and at the same time do some good. We find ourselves 2 years later in paradise. We are on the beach, working with an incredible team and couldn’t be happier. I agree that our most rewarding project is with the women’s group, Mujeres Cambia. Everyone who sees their pieces does a double-take. It is an
incredible gift to be working with such talented women.

Who has helped you adjust to your life in Ecuador?

MARI: One of the reasons I feel so fortunate to be serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer at this stage in my life is that I get to do it with my best friend and partner, Paul. Serving as a married couple means that we can collaborate on projects (we help each other on all of our projects even if one of us is the lead), take care of one another when we are sick, share household chores, and serve as each other’s support system.  I thought about applying to the Peace Corps after college but now I can’t imagine this experience without Paul!

PAUL: What Mari says is true. While many of our peers are here alone I am here with my best friend. Together we are learning about the culture of Ecuador as well what it means to be a Peace Corps Volunteer. In reality, it is also challenging because Marisa is a superstar so it’s sometimes hard to keep up. I strive to keep up with this powerhouse motivator, facilitator and designer but enjoy having a role model by my side.

You recently helped open a pizza parlor in Palmar. What are your favorite pizza combinations?

MARI: Pineapple is really popular here so we have that as an optional topping at Palmar Pizza. We also have pepperoni, ham, and vegetables. In my old life in Brooklyn, though, Paul and I were fond of a local pizza place that made a corn, goat cheese, and basil pizza. Often, we would buy pizza dough from our local pizzeria and make our own version of that pizza. I don’t know if the local taste buds would go for this one, but you never know!

PAUL: Helping start a pizza restaurant was a rewarding project where we designed and built out the space and of course perfected a recipe. In Palmar, because most people have never had pizza before we wanted to stick to the basics at least at first. In 2013 look out for shrimp pizza at a Palmar Pizza near you!

If received a care package from home, what would you want in it?

MARI: Wow! This is hard. This mythical perfect package would have to include some comfort food like home-baked cookies with dark chocolate chips, pad thai (not sure how well that would do in the mail) as well as some practical stuff like the new Polaroid digital instant camera and a bunch of Sharpie marker variety packs for the ladies of Mujeres Cambia. It would be nice to have other fun stuff to make me smile like pictures of my two nephews and one niece, recipes from my mom and mother-in-law, and actual written letters from all of my closest friends.

PAUL: My parents have been sending incredible care packages these past couple of months. We usually look forward to simple things like suncreen, cookies, or towels and always look forward to any hand written notes. I am also always excited about things that support our projects. Now I am trying to solicit old smart phones from friends that we could use for our business projects where we do accounting and inventory by hand.

What advice do you have for someone applying for the Peace Corps?

MARI: I would say “Go for it!” It is never too late to apply. We thought that since we hadn’t applied right after college that we had missed the boat but that’s definitely not true. The average age of a Peace Corps Volunteer has increased steadily (I think it’s 28 now) and they are encouraging more married couples as well as retirees to serve.

Also, it’s important to talk to current and returned volunteers. We hosted a potluck at our place for returned volunteers as we were filling out the application. We also spoke with people who had volunteered through other organizations. In the end Peace Corps was the best fit for us and they accepted us so we couldn’t feel luckier.

PAUL: I am on the same page as Marisa, “Go for it!” When we were thinking about Peace Corps we had been out of school for years, had stable jobs and a comfortable life in New York. We were content and happy. Doing something radically different like Peace Corps was risky. It meant not just leaving our jobs but being away from our family and friends. We couldn’t pick where we would live or what we would be doing. There was a chance we may not like our site. There was a feeling that we are giving up a great deal of control over our own lives. But thinking about the past couple of years in New York (which seemed to blur together now) it seemed like having a big change like this would be a way to challenge us. It would be a way to have another type of experience and of course an adventure. Adventure bound, as always.

Thanks so much, Mari and Paul!

Mexican Crafts to Make at Home

Although I am actually in Mexico right now, it is super easy to explore Mexico from home too. For all you crafters, I’ve found some fun projects to recreate Mexican crafts. Check out these bloggers’ how-tos:

Sugar Skull Heat n Bond Applique by Diary of a Mad Crafter

DIY Festive Mexican Paper Flowers by 100 Layer Cake

Luchador Mask Necklace by Den of a Thoughtful Rabbit

Mexican Blanket Jacket from Sprinkles in Springs

Mexican Hot Chocolate from Prairiesummers

DIY Mexican Talavera Pottery from Juan of Words

Mini Piñatas by Oh Happy Day

Have fun crafting Mexican style!

Taking Recommendations: Latin American Reading List

Rather than research and make my reading list for Latin America, I thought I would just ask for recommendations. What have you read set in Central or South America that you would read again? Post your recommendation and I’ll add it to the list.

I haven’t read many books set in Latin America, but here is what I’ve read or I’m currently reading:

  • Leaving Tabasco by Carmen Boullosa (currently reading while in Mexico)
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriela Garcia Marquez
  • Love in the Time of Colera by Gabriela Garcia Marquez

I’m excited to read about:

Natural Talent

Hubby and I had an interesting conversation last night about professions and why some get paid more than others. For example a professional basketball player probably works less hours than many factory workers, but his salary is exponentially larger. In the end we decided that he can do something that the majority of the population cannot do. Because of his unique talents, we as a society compensate him financially. While hard work is certainly part of his success, part of it is also natural talent. The same goes for pop singers, actors, brilliant business people, etc.

I am a study abroad advisor. Perhaps anyone could do my job. Anyone could learn the programs and visa requirements. Anyone could encourage others to travel. I think the difference between anyone and me is that I really love college students. I light up when they come in the office and bribe them with food to come visit me. I can’t wait to hear about their planning, their challenges, and their adventures. When one called me yesterday to tell me she got a job, I felt so proud. Each of those students make me want to go to work every day. Though my profession may not be financially rewarded, I feel paid in full by the relationships I have with them. That is my natural talent.

Friday was my last day at my university. Originally I was going to write that it was my last day as a study abroad advisor, but that is not true. I think I will always be a study abroad advisor. It’s something I am truly passionate about. So whether I’m paid or not, I think in order to be truly happy, I have to be doing something in this capacity. So as Hubby and I move to Oklahoma and I continue to be global from home, I will also be seeking as many opportunities to help college students experience the world around us. In this way, I hope to use my natural talent.

What are you really good at? Are you pursuing it?

It’s All Greek to Me Friday Lunch

For this week’s Friday no-kitchen lunch, we went Greek. Our menu included grilled eggplant, a Greek salad, humus and pita, and grapes. Simple but delicious.

For an easy eggplant recipe, here’s what I did:

  • Cut eggplant in long slices
  • Dip each piece in olive oil and sprinkle with season salt and ground pepper
  • Place on griddle heated to 350 degrees or in a frying pan on medium high heat
  • Heat approximately 4 minutes on each side or until color darkens and eggplant becomes soft

Eggplant cooking on the griddle

Yummy Greek salad with tomatoes, feta, and olives

My Greek Plate

In addition to great food, we had a fantastic group of students on Friday. These students have either returned from abroad or are headed out to one of the following: Spain, Italy, Hungary, England, New Zealand, Japan, Panama, or Costa Rica. Quite the international group and I think they are all pretty wonderful.

Our rising sophomores

Yep…Friday is still Hawaiian shirt day in the Chemistry department

A couple of our great study abroad alums

Friday’s Olympian to Watch: Yun Ok-Hee

Ever since I read the Hunger Games, I’ve become mildly obsessed with archery. I even bought a Groupon to take classes (I still haven’t used it yet!). So this week’s Olympian to watch is a straight shooting lady who everyone is trying to beat. Yun Ok-Hee (Yun is her surname) hails from South Korea where she began her career in archery at the young age of 11. In an interview she said it was watching the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta that really inspired her. She won two medals (gold and bronze) in Beijing and according to all of the archery world, she has a strong chance of sweeping this year’s games.

In her spare time Yun enjoys reading and listening to music, but also is an advocate for promoting the  historical legacy of Korean archery and has helped several Korean filmmakers accurately portray the sport. She gives a great deal of credit to her heritage for her success. In an interview with New Korean Cinema, she said, “Our sensitive fingertips handed down from our ancestors and our spiritual strength and willingness to fight to the very end are our secrets.” This in combination with her training (which includes bungee jumping and platform diving) have definitely made her an Olympian to watch in 2012.

Olympic Sport: Archery

Hometown: Seongnam, South Korea

Birthdate: March 1, 1985 (age 27)

Height: 5’3″ (this gives me hope that I can still become a master archer; she’s only 4 inches taller than me)

Weight: 139 lbs

It was tough to find a lot of detail about Yun Ok-Hee, but check these out if you would like to learn more.

Travel Buddy Compatibility

As Hubby and I prepare for our first international trip together, I’ve been contemplating the desirable qualities of a travel buddy. How important is travel companion compatibility? Do you need one to be the leader and the other the follower? One a planner and the other spontaneous? Or do both need to take the same approach for a successful trip?

According to the Myers-Briggs there are 16 personality types that are determined by the following four different preferences.

Favorite world: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).

Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).

Decisions: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).

Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).

Your Personality Type: When you decide on your preference in each category, you have your own personality type, which can be expressed as a code with four letters.

I am an ENFJ – extraversion, intuition, feeling, judging. While Hubby has never taken the MBTI, I’m pretty sure he is an ESTP…almost my exact opposite.  You know the saying! In general, I would say this adds spice and depth to our marriage. We each see things from different angles and help each other make the best decision. But other than our honeymoon to Puerto Rico and weekend trips here in the States, we just don’t have much travel experience together.

In all my previous international adventures, I’ve noticed that I tend to pick travel buddies who are like me: organized, planned, and decisive. My friend who I visited in Argentina is a super planner. When I went to Paris with a sorority sister, we had the entire trip mapped out and saw every hot spot in the city in 4 short days. When I traveled with study abroad programs in Japan and Peru, we were extremely planned out. This will be my first time traveling abroad with someone who is not a decisive planner like me.

Fortunately, I’m pretty crazy about Hubby so in the end, just spending time with him will be wonderful. But I’m curious to hear from anyone who has gone overseas with their travel opposite. Please share your tips for a successful vacation!