How do you tell a short story about what you've been doing for twenty years?
Since leaving Neody after graduation, I've been many places. First stop was Manhattan Kansas to KSU where I studied as an undergraduate, worked teaching freshman, tutoring the football team, and playing in the university marching band (drums). I spent my last undergrad year on a study abroad in Zürich, Switzerland, studying German and environmental science and had a wonderful experience meeting lots of people from lots of places. When I came back, I started working for the International Community Service Program at KSU and began my masters degree in geography.
After college, I spent a couple of years working at the city in Liberal, Kansas then went back to study at the University of Iowa. I spent a summer (well in the southern hemisphere it was actually a very cold winter) in Argentina doing some research and learning Spanish and meeting more wonderful people. Back in Iowa, I met my husband, Darío Solís, who had come to the States from Panama 15 years earlier. We had our first son Trey (his name is also Darío, but he's the III, so we call him Trey), I finished my doctorate, then moved to Washington DC for a new job. I'm the Director of Research and Outreach for the Association of American Geographers. It's very fun work, designing, planning, and funding educational and research projects internationally. So fun, that when we decided to move to Panama, I got to keep my position and now I telecommute from out of the country!
And then came Bennett (his first name) our second son. He was born in DC, and it was then two months later we moved to Panama City — well actually a suburb of the city where my husband grew up. Darío is a PhD Mechanical-Electrical Engineer, currently working as the Director of Research for the Technological University of Panama, while I have my AAG office in our house. It's a bit difficult to work here lately because we just started some contruction to add about three rooms to the house, one of which will be my new office, and another one is a guest room - in case anyone wants to come visit they can stay with us!
Trey is now five and speaks fluent Spanish and English. He's learning Chinese cause there are friends here he wants to talk with. I guess that means I'm going to have to learn something. He goes to a pre-school and has two girlfriends in his class that fight over him. What's it going to be like when he's 16? Bennett just turned three (see the birthday party pics here) and still pretty much makes up his own toddler language so far that only Trey seems to understand. They both love puzzles and watching movies and riding their little bikes. We all like to go to the beach every once in a while, which is about half an hour away. Ben goes to a little daycare/preschool in the neighborhood and on weekends we have large parties (panama-style and salsa dancing) and play with cousins — strangely they are all boys!
We make it back stateside every so often - I travel for work about 4 times a year. We spent a month in Kansas in November 2006 visiting family and again a three week tour in Illinois/Iowa/Kansas for business/pleasure for Thanksgiving 2007! Not sure what plans we have for 2008 just yet, maybe in the summer.
Some of my favorite photos: click on an image to enlarge it and read the caption.
A closer view via satellite image taken just as our neighborhood Quintas de Villa Flor was being built - you can see the construction of our house, the first one on the corner. Here's the screenshot, and for a link to the site it resides on, go to Wikimapia and zoom in and out, even find your own coordinates!