Your Country Needs You to Study Abroad & Travel

This past Tuesday I had the best excuse to turn down any and all meeting requests.

“Sorry, I’ve got a meeting at the White House.”

The White House invited 100 travel bloggers to begin a dialog on how to increase the amount of students who study abroad. While 50% of students enter college with the desire to study abroad only 10% actually do. And of that 10% most are white and most go to Europe.

The administration made the case that getting Americans, especially young Americans, out into the world is a matter of national security and economic strength.

From Assistant Secretary Evan Ryan’s remarks:

“It is crucial for our country’s next generation of leaders to travel, live, work, intern or volunteer abroad in order to gain the skills needed to understand and operate…

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Grandma Betty is washing bananas in heaven

Betty holding our son Griffin.

Annie’s grandma, Betty Ludwick, recently passed away. She was 93.

She listened and she loved. She humbly led a life that led others to listen and love. If you spent five minutes with her, you felt like one of her grandchildren. That’s why I was so honored to read the tribute below written by Betty’s three granddaughters at her funeral.

Stephanie, Emily, and Annie did an amazing job writing this. It is touching and funny, and most of all it’s Betty. Even if you weren’t lucky enough to meet her, I think you’ll enjoy it.

In Memory of our Grandma, Betty Ludwick

March 10, 1921-November 13, 2014
By: Stephanie Pfefferkorn, Emily Taylor, and Annie Timmerman

If you knew…

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I met Temple Grandin!

My hair wasn’t brushed, neither were my teeth.

I wondered down zombie-like to the hotel’s continental breakfast. My eyes weren’t really working yet, but it wasn’t hard to discern that Temple Grandin was sitting in the lobby on the phone.

If you aren’t familiar with Temple Grandin, she’s sort of a patron saint of the autism community. Born with autism, Temple has been able to make an impact seeing the world from a different perspective. She was played by Claire Danes in a movie and is a rockstar speaker at events across the country.

SHE IS A BIG DEAL, especially to parents like me with a child on the autism spectrum.

I didn’t want to…

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The Gold Nugget in My Wallet

(This story originally appeared on the blog of the Indiana Authors Award.) 

I carry a gold nugget in my wallet. A slave owner in Burkina Faso gave it to me.

The bus ride that took me from Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, ended at a flooded road and a trip in a tiny dugout canoe where the oarsman joked about crocodiles. From the canoe I got in a taxi that didn’t have brakes. The driver stopped the car using the “Fred Flintstone” method – sticking his foot out the door and dragging it along the road.

We arrived to the town of Poura, Burkina Faso, at dusk. There were no rooms to be had. The proprietor of the town’s only hotel had taken all of the keys with him on vacation. Fortunately,…

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Change Starts with a (Fair Trade) T-shirt: Nerding out over at prAna

Rocking my prAna Fair Trade T-Shirt at the Midwest Writer workshop. Apparently I’m about to drop an F-bomb.

 

This afternoon, I’m visiting Fair Trade USA’s headquarters, so I though I’d share the post I wrote for the clothing company prAna:

Change Starts With a T-shirt

The post covers how a T-shirt changed my life and how excited I am that Fair Trade certified clothing exists….

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Suit-Wearing Kelsey Says Stupid Things: My Evening at the Indiana Authors Award


The sun poured through the glass walls of the library and made me even more aware of the fact I was wearing a hot and itchy suit.

“Man this suit is hot,” I said to Jessica Brockmole, one of my fellow Emerging author finalists at the Indiana Authors Award. She socially appropriately acknowledged my statement.

And then I went on.

“I don’t normally wear suits. Actually, borrowed this one.” If only I had stopped there. “My suit doesn’t fit any more. I started doing CrossFit about a year ago and my butt got bigger.”

The more dressed up I get, the more socially awkward I become. It’s a law that is as true as gravity to me.

(In a suit at the wedding of a former…

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I’m looking down on Times Square

I was scrolling through Facebook, wasting time, not expecting to see a picture of a picture of me on a Jumbotron in Times Square. Why would I?

But there it was…

“That’s cool,” I thought. “Probably photoshopped, though.”

The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Author’s Awards had shared the photo. I haven’t officially mentioned it here on my site, but I won the Emerging Author Award. (I should write about that later. It was an awesome evening and honor.) The photo featured Norbert Krapf, the regional award winner, Michael Shelden, the national award winner, and me . . . in a suit . . . a borrowed suit.

I never wear a suit.

I had to ask if this…

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Harper Loves Griffin

Our kids get a bath every night whether they need one or not.

Bath times are extra special at our house. I think that’s why we wash our kids every night.

Our five-year-old daughter, Harper, and our three-year-old son, Griffin, don’t play together much during the course of the day. Griffin has autism and is in “Griffin Land” most of the day.

“I don’t know why Griffy won’t play with me, but I still love him,” Harper said one day, summing up her relationship with her brother.

You try not to compare your kids to other kids. You try. But you do. Watching special sibling bonds develop in other kids and not seeing them in your own is tough.

But bath time is time for Harper…

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Chris Christie told the wrong heckler to “sit down and shut up”


If you’ve read my book WHERE AM I WEARING? you remember Jim Keady. He spent a month in Indonesia living with the workers at a Nike factory. That was in 1997. To this day, Jim still travels back to Indonesia. Recently he was deported from Indonesia for joining a labor rally. He stands with workers and through his work with Team Sweat educates high school and college students about global workers’ rights.

Jim stands for what he believes in. He does not sit down, nor does he shut up.

Yesterday Jim attended a press conference in which Governor Chris Christie was talking about the progress that had been made in Jim’s childhood neighborhood since Hurricane Sandy hit two years ago. Jim held up a sign that read: “Get Sandy Families Back in Their Homes / Finish the Job.”

In the wake of the hurricane, I remember following Jim’s efforts. Someone needed help with the disaster that was their homes and Jim would show up with a crew of volunteers. Eventually the city gave him his own dump truck to drive around and help people recover what they could of their possessions and discard what was unsalvageable. He took off an entire month and did this.

When Christie took to the mic, Jim held up his sign and began to ask him why only 20% of the $1.1 Billion set aside for families impacted by Sandy had been spent. Jim didn’t have a mic, but he had a voice. He kept talking. And eventually Christie shouted him down:

(From Bloomberg)…“somebody like you doesn’t know a damn thing about what you’re talking about except to stand up and show off when the cameras are here. I’ve been here when the cameras aren’t here buddy, and done the work.” Christie went on to tell Keady that “I’m glad you had your day to show off” and now, “turn around, get your 15 minutes of fame, and then maybe take your jacket off, roll up your sleeves and do something for the people of this state.”

There is a time to vote. There is a time to sit and listen. But there is also a time to stand and speak. (My thoughts on Standing Up here). Jim stood.

I honestly don’t know the intricacies of the Sandy recovery efforts, but I do know one thing: Chris Christie told the wrong guy to sit down and shut up.

Here’s Jim speaking out on MSNBC:

Below you can read what I wrote about Jim in WHERE AM I WEARING

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Win My Fair Trade Underwear & More than $500 of Goodies!

Griffin celebrating Fair Trade Month

 

Enter to win more than $500 of Fair Trade goodies!

I’m wearing Fair Trade underwear! And you could be too. Just enter the contest below to win more than $500 of goodies including PACT underwear, Patagonia yoga pants, prAna T-shirt, Boll & Branch throw, Under the Canopy bathrobe, and TOMS coffee.


  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Buying Fair and Being Fair is now more than just about your (and Griffin’s) cup of coffee

The fact that I’m wearing Fair Trade Certified underwear is something I can’t believe. (My super soft organic…

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