I guess I should introduce myself and give some explanation to my wanderlust. My name is Jennifer and I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. As early as I can remember I was an explorer–through the house, in nearby wooded areas, climbing the tallest trees, working out how to swing around a tree with a rope, and just looking for adventure and treasure wherever it might be. (There is a rather embarrassing photo of me somewhere that my grandfather took as I was swinging around a tree by a rope. Unfortunately, I was wearing striped shorts that caused a bull’s-eye effect in the crotch as I rounded that tree.)
My introduction to road trips was with my father who is a musician, and who used to travel around the states to his gigs. We drove around with the windows down and the music playing. When he settled in Chicago with my step-mother, I drove between Omaha and Chicago, blared the radio, and sang my heart out. It would always be a little disappointing when the trip ended–not because I reached my destination, but because I had to slow down, stop at intersections, and turn down the volume. How did it get that loud, anyway?
The world expanded as I was accepted on the JET Program and moved to Shizuoka, Japan for a year, then two years, and eventually six. I traveled all over Asian, visited Australia, and toured bits of Europe. I was fortunate to be chosen for an NEH Fellowship that took me to Oaxaca, Mexico for a summer, too. I’m not into quick visits. Staying in a place long enough to soak in the culture and participate is more my style and I never leave a place without learning to make at least one culinary dish. Similarities and differences of everyday life of diverse peoples fascinates me, and I always want to learn more.
Once back from Japan, I ended up in New York City for a master’s program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and stayed seven years. I taught ELA in an international high school in the Bronx. All of the students have lived in the U.S. for four or fewer years and have the challenge of learning English as they learn high-school content. Now, I’ve landed in Minneapolis where I’m training teachers which has narrowed my window into the vast cultures and curiosities of the world.
Olson’s Ultimate Road Trip map got me to thinking that I haven’t seen much of my own country. It’s huge and full of cultural differences, too, which makes it such an interesting and wonderful place. So, I’d like to try to make the full 13,699 miles in two months. I’d like to start out in late June. This has been a goal–a dream–of mine for a while, and it keeps weighing heavily on my mind. We just got to get this into motion before too long.