Hello Glimpsers!  My name is Cat Cole, and I am excited to be a trip leader on our upcoming trip to Madagalpa, Nicaragua.  As a history teacher, I am especially excited to delve into local history and learn more about the history and politics that have shaped the country.  I am currently reading the book “The Country Under My Skin” by Gioconda Belli, a memoir by an inspiring Nicaraguan poet who, after an early marriage, broke free from the traditional path in order to join the revolution as a Sandinista.  Speaking of which, I am also passionate about feminism and questioning the expectations and pressures that are placed on both young women and young men due to gender stereotypes.  I highly recommend the book to anyone that wants a touch point into the history of Nicaragua before we arrive, or who wants to read an inspiring story by a strong, independent woman!

During the year, I teach 11th and 12th grade Humanities at Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland.  When I’m not at school, you might find me swimming laps, taking in some Zen philosophy at my favorite meditation class, or strumming out some chords on my ukulele. Also, it goes without saying, but I LOVE to travel!

I have been to many countries including, Switzerland, Japan, Costa Rica, Mexico, Canada, England, France, Spain, Portugal, Peru, Italy, Thailand and Cambodia.  My favorite travel experiences are ones where I have a chance to really get to know local people.  For example, in Japan I stayed with a home-stay family for two weeks whose daughter was my age (we were both in 8th grade), and that gave me a real window into what life was like for someone just like me, but in another country.  It helped to highlight the cultural differences we each grew up with, but also our common humanity at the same time.  We both got shy in certain situations, we both had crushes who we didn’t know how to talk to, we both worried about our friend groups… Later in life, I lived for 5 months in Madrid, Spain as a college student, then for 5 months in Chaiyaphum, Thailand teaching English after I graduated.  All of these experiences have enriched my cultural perspective and expanded my world view.  The experience of traveling itself has taught me to be open minded, adaptable, positive, and solution oriented.  Along the way, I have grown from a shy, awkward middle-schooler to a confident traveler who can strike up a conversation with a stranger anywhere in the world.

I hope the same for all of you since, as humans stuck on this blue marble together, flying through space, we really are one global community after all.  I can’t WAIT to travel with you all and watch you discover and grow along this part of your own life journey.

See you soon!  (Less than one week!!)

-Ms. Cole