In November 2017, I took a work trip to El Salvador for a research site visit and a humanitarian photography gig. It was my first research storytelling job based in Latin America for a project very parallel to my dissertation topic. The project, titled “The National Evaluation of Quality of Childcare in El Salvador”, focused on improving the caregiving environments for vulnerable children by effecting changes within childcare centers and orphanages.

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A year ago, I moved to a really charming corner of the world called Battambang, Cambodia. I had previously been there one other time for my first 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat, but this time around would be my first time actually living and experiencing a non-monastic life in Cambodia. I was excited to return and reconnect.

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I’m not sure if it was the emerald green glacier lakes or the ethereal elk mating calls that echoed through the valleys at night, but Rocky Mountain National Park set the bar extremely high on my National Park tour this year.

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I think I love this saying more than the average person. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent the majority of my life working with kids. Maybe it’s because I’ve had great students. Or maybe it’s because 50% of my community worldwide are kids. Or maybe it’s really because I know this sentence is so full of hard, beautiful truth.

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A year ago from today, one of my greatest comrades from my Greenville life visited me while I was in Vietnam. Playing local tour-guide and showing friends why Vietnam is one of my greatest loves has been and continues to be one of my favorite human experiences.

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