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An Introduction & an Ode to Educators

I grew up in a family that rarely strayed far from the mid-Atlantic, and if anyone did, it wasn't for very long, so there was no reason to expect that when I graduated from the University of North Carolina, I would spend the next eight years living and working in Mexico and Central America.

Looking back, the initial seeds for what would prove to be a life-changing journey were planted by my high school Spanish teacher, Louise Einolf, and the stories she told about her visits to Mexico. Compared to the suburbs of Richmond, VA, Mexico seemed like the most colorful, fascinating, and enticing place on Earth. 

Later, at UNC, a political science professor by the name of Enrique Baloyra would make a huge difference in the trajectory of my life. He taught a course on the political literature of Latin America, which was, hands down, the most interesting class I've ever had. 

Baloyra made Latin America come alive through the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude), Alejo Carpentier (Reasons of State), Carlos Fuentes (The Death of Artemis Cruz), Manuel Puig (Kiss of the Spider Woman), and Andrew Lloyd Weber (Evita).

Also, as a student at UNC, I spent my junior year abroad in Seville, Spain, navigating life in another country and another language, learning just how big and accessible the world was, and yearning to see as much of it as I possibly could. 

The final nudge took place back in Chapel Hill during a conversation with the then dean of the journalism school, Richard Cole. He suggested I apply for a summer internship at The News, an English-language newspaper in Mexico City where he had once worked.

Two weeks after graduation, off I went, expecting to stay in Mexico for three months. Three months turned into eight years (two in Mexico, six in Guatemala), and it all began with the teachings and encouragement of three amazing educators -- Ms. Einolf, Dr. Baloyra, and Dean Cole.


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