Monday, May 25, 2009


When I went off to teach in Tunisia, someone said to me, "I just know you're going to meet someone and fall in love!" In my mind, there wasn't much chance of moving to a country that was 99% Muslim and meeting a man who was:

1. A dedicated Christian

2. Single

3. Intelligent

4. Musical

5. Not in the military

6. Funny

7. Handsome

Well, I didn't meet that guy, but I met Arthur and he was close enough. Just kidding. I found all of that and more when we met at the American School just a few weeks after I arrived in the country. After seeing Arthur in the international choir and quickly finding that he met qualities number 7 and 4, my research began! I was delighted to find everything I was looking for and even some things I wasn't looking for (how did I get so lucky to find a guy who can COOK?) We began dating last year, he proposed in August, I said yes about one millisecond later and we'll be married in the states this July. It's all SO exciting. We plan to return to Tunisia after the wedding to continue our work at the school. Just thought I should let you know ;)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Six Months Later....Shame on Me!

Since I just finished a week-long course entitled, "Technology in Education," I'm inspired to update my dormant blog. I'm sure my three readers will be thrilled. :) I'll give a quick summary of my last six months. Thank goodness for iCalendar on my computer or I would have no idea what I've been up to.

In February, I took over the direction of both the middle school and high school choirs at school. Though I'd been assisting with the choir since the fall, the changes in the director's schedule required that I either take over the rehearsals and trips, or we'd have to cancel choir. So I took on the challenge and fumbled my way through conducting to lead a group of wonderful students. We met before school, at lunch, and sometimes after school to prepare for some challenging performances in March, April, and May. In March, I took four high school boys to Muscat, Oman to participate in a choral invitation with seven other international schools from the Middle East. Oman was fabulous. I loved the school, the people, the climate....and the mall. It was odd to see women completely veiled sitting in Starbucks or shopping at Gap. After rehearsing for two days under the direction of Christoper Aspaas from the reputable St. Olaf College in Minnesota, we put on a concert at the American International School of Muscat. I hurried back to Tunis for the two days of rehearsals before leaving again for April's choir trip: twelve middle school singers performing with European international schools in Lisbon, Portugal. We performed two concerts and did quite a bit of sight-seeing in the charming city of Lisbon. May brought our ACST spring music concert as well as a performance at graduation. Also this spring, I was involved in the music team at the Anglican church in Tunis, which I really enjoyed. I would describe this spring as musically "stretching," as I had the chance to lead congregational singing as well as conduct choral groups for the first time.

Summer brought a delightful three-week visit with Sarah and Jennifer, two of my best buds from college. They flew to Tunis for a week and then we traveled (by ferry!) to Palermo, Sicily. After a few days in Sicily, we "trained it" north through Italy, stopping for a few days each in Rome, Florence, and Cinque Terre. It was a two-week adventure filled with museums, good hotels (researched and well-chosen by Sarah and Jennifer), delicious food, gallons of sunscreen, and gallons of gelato. At the end of June, the girls flew home to the states, and I continued on to Switzerland to begin my master's degree studies in Leysin, Switzerland. The program is accredited through Boston's Endicott College, but my cohort meets in Leysin for two consecutive summers, and online during the year. I just finished the first four weeks of study toward a degree in International Education, and four weekends of studying Switzerland's Alps! Adventures included wine-tasting and farmer's markets in the valley, the famous Montreux Jazz festival three weekends in a row, hiking, and paragliding through the mountains. The coursework has been interesting, and the people in my cohort are lots of fun. This is definitely the way to do grad school!

After a busy busy year, I'll be heading back to the states on Sunday for three weeks. I am looking forward to reconnecting with my family, friends, and the best city ever.

Enjoy the pictures!

My hotel in Madrid....just kidding, this is St. Andrew's Church where I heard a beautiful mass complete with a full choir. (picture by my friend Sandy Elder)

Amazing Flamenco dancer at Tablao Flamenco Restaurant Corral de la Moreria, reported to be the best place to see Flamenco in Spain. (picture by Sandy Elder)

Street performer, Madrid (picture by Sandy Elder)

Skype web conference call with my sixth graders and my brother Evan's sixth graders in Oregon. Cool, huh?

HOT day in Muscat, Oman (March 2008)

Choir students on beach in Muscat, Oman

Rooftops in Lisbon, Portugal

Fairy-tale castle where we played make-believe for hours, Lisbon, Portugal

Final concert, middle school choir, Lisbon, Portugal

My curtains are done and I have pictures on the walls at my house in Tunisia, just in time for Sarah and Jennifer to arrive!

Jennifer and I trying out our belly-dancing skills, Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia

Ice cream break with Sarah and Jennifer, Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia

Spring flowers, Tunis, Tunisia

Roman ruins, Dougga, Tunisia

Sunset as viewed from the balcony of my hotel, Leysin, Switzerland

Lake Geneva, Vevey, Switzerland

This castle just sold for 1 Swiss Franc; you missed it.

Montreux Jazz Festival, Montreux, Switzerland

Street musicians, Vevey, Switzerland

Another day at Lake Geneva, Vevey, Switzerland

Mountain view from my favorite hiking trail, Leysin, Switzerland

View from the top of the chairlift, just before I JUMPED off the mountain with a parachute strapped to me (oh yeah, and a licensed guide strapped to me)

Taken from the air - 3,000 meters altitude. This was such a rush!

Landing on solid ground!

Monday, January 21, 2008


Below are just a few pictures of Istanbul: the Sultans' palace where we admired an 86 carat diamond and more gold and jewels than I thought possible, the famous Blue Mosque with its 6 minarets, the Grand Bazaar with all the goods including sahlep (yummy warm tapioca-like drink), the Egyptian spice market, and one of the bridges over the river. All of this was on the European side of the city, which Angie showed us in a delightful, whirlwind tour.

New Year's Eve

At Amanda's fabulous suggestion, we ventured over "the Med" to Istanbul for New Year's and spent a week exploring the city. We quickly realized that it would take a lot more than a week of exploring to do the city justice. Anyway, we flew in on New Year's Eve and enjoyed a breathtaking ferryboat ride across the Bosphorous River to the Asian side of the city. Here I am in Asia for the first time! We met up with my mom's childhood friend, Angie, who hosted us during our time there. It was the perfect arrival, complete with gorgeous views, great conversation, and Amanda's anxiously awaited doner kebab. We heard that most New Year's celebrations were cancelled due to political unrest, so we just walked down to the water to bring in 2008 with a handful of people who were out. Can you see the glorious fireworks display behind us in the photo by the river that night? Yeah, neither could we.

Sunrise, Sunset

Amanda adored my favorite neighborhood around here, Sidi Bou Said. We managed to take in a sunset and a sunrise up on the hill overlooking the sea (not simultaneously, though). The cafe shown is a great spot for mint tea served with pine nuts. Yum!


Christmas brought me a wonderful present - AMANDA! She flew in on the 23rd and we spent two weeks catching up and seeing the sights around where I live. My friend showed us around Carthage and it was great to have a tour with someone so knowledgable (as in, she's lived here her whole life and written a book about the different empires that have occupied Carthage). Here are pictures of the Roman amphitheater and baths.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Fontana de Trevi (Trevi Fountain)

This beautiful fountain is the very end of the Aqua Virgo, an aqueduct constructed in 19 BC. It provides water to all the fountains in the center of Rome.

The legend about Trevi Fountain is that if you stand with your back to it and throw a coin over your shoulder, you will return to Rome. You can see that I am really hoping for that! (I was also hoping not to hit a tourist with my coin, because it was so crowded that I couldn't get close to the fountain).