I have always enjoyed sharing my knowledge with others. A major reason for my choice of elementary
education as a profession was the realization that as an educator I would be inspired to continue my own learning. Summer vacations have provided a great opportunity for me to broaden my
cultural awareness through
travel. I have been able to pass this greater appreciation of other cultures on to my students. I am now ready to further expand my own knowledge and experience
in an academic setting. My desire is to join a community of teachers and learners who share my interests and will encourage my continued intellectual
development. My intermediate goal is to work in the field of geographical research
for several years while earning my doctorate. Then, I would like to return to my first love, teaching, this time at the university level.
Throughout my teaching experience I
have worked closely with the children of immigrant families from Mexico, Guatemala,
El Salvador, Nicaragua,
Israel, and Russia. I have also taught an ESL class
to adults from Mexico.
While teaching, I would often wonder about the circumstances brought these families so far from their birthplaces.
In some cases I was fortunate enough to be able to learn of these circumstances. These intimate encounters stimulated
my interest in human migration.
From an early age I
have understood that the world is full of diverse and interesting people whom I should meet and learn about for myself. My uncle, who had been in the Peace Corps in Malaysia, fascinated me by speaking
and writing five languages. He spent all of his free time traveling the world.
He would send
me a gift from each of his stops. My high school geography teacher had been to
most of the places she described and she brought into our classes artifacts and pictures from her trips. When I would hold these treasures in my hand, I would wonder
what it would be like to be a young person in that part of the world. But what
captivated me most were their stories of the intriguing people they encountered and whose lives were so different from my
The influences of my uncle and my teacher
have prompted me to travel frequently and widely. I
completed a summer program in Querétaro, Mexico, studying Spanish and archeology. The following summer I went back to central Mexico
for another month to visit friends and some of the places I had missed the year before.
Later, I returned and spent a month in Cuernavaca attending a language
school. On shorter trips I have visited Monterrey,
Bustamante, Nuevo Laredo, Boquillas, and Juarez. All of these excursions have contributed to my appreciation of the rich and distinct culture that is only
hours away from my home.
I have also toured Europe. On my first visit I explored England,
Austria, and the Czech
Republic. I traveled slowly, and though
I felt I got to know the places I visited, I felt a bit too much like a tourist. I
realized that I want a deeper and more meaningful exposure to these cultures. I
do not just want to see things. I want to know why people, throughout the world, are the way they are. What is it about their environment and culture that influences them?
I had to make another expedition to seek the answers to my questions. For my second visit to Europe I spent six weeks traveling in the Slovak
Republic and Poland
and another week revisiting the Czech Republic. Before the trip I cultivated close friendships with native-born residents through
letters and e-mail. By knowing people who could share their lives and history
with me I found my trip that summer to be much more rewarding.
These travel experiences and my work with immigrant
families have helped to shape my research interests, which include, but are not limited to, the interactions between humans
and their environments and their adaptations as they migrated.
At present, a specific research interest of mine
is comparison of educational outcomes between Latin American immigrants and Asian immigrants in the U.S.
I am curious to know which cultural
tenets carry over and what effect they have on the children as learners in a new country.
Also, I question whether student achievement is completely dependent on familial rearing or whether it is influenced
strongly by the quality of bilingual/ESL education
the student receives.
order to better prepare myself for the graduate program in geography, I have enrolled
in Introduction to Geographical Information Systems and Introduction to Cultural Geography for the spring of 2004. I have also enrolled in Conversational Italian II, which is my second foreign language.
Spanish is my first.
The wealth of erudition and resources in cultural
geography at the University of Texas
impresses me greatly. I feel Dr. Skop’s Age of Migration, Dr.
Davies’ The Modern American City, and Dr. Knapp’s Latin America: Culture,
Environment and Development will support me in focusing my research interests for my
I am eager to learn at the Department of Geography. I hope, also, that I can contribute
through my own travels and experiences.
Please do not hesitate to call me if you should have any questions regarding my application.