About four years ago, we set out on an adventure to travel Alaska in recreational vehicles with a total of 16 travelers, one of whom was our, then, 6 year old granddaughter. I will call her “Ditto”, since she will play an important role in this story.
Well, we have some close friends with whom we have traveled to Mexico, the Texas Gulf Coast, and other place not-so-far-away. The trip to Alaska was about a year in the planning. My friend, Kathy, has a knack for organizing trips, for which I”m grateful since I don’t like that kind of detail.
All but four of the travelers flew to Alaska. The other four drove to do some sight-seeing along the way. Our flights and car trip converged in Anchorage, where we rented the recreational vehicles and began the drive across the state, as best can be done in two weeks.
This story focuses on our first stop, from Alaska, was the Kenai Peninsula and Resurrection Bay. It was overcast and cool, which was a nice welcome coming from July the Midwest. July in southern Alaska was wonderfully wet, and the air smelled fresh and moist! Part of the group went fishing for halibut and salmon, which was prepared in the smoker that Mark brought from the “Lower 48” in their SUV. We enjoyed the freshness of the fish prepared other ways, too!
One of the most exciting activities we shared was that of teaching “Ditto” how to harvest mussels during low tide. After gathering the bi-valve moluscs, we cleaned and “de-bearded” them. Inspecting the mussels before cooking is important. Any that are open already, should be discarded. That indicates a dead organism. When your mussels are cleaned and inspected, set those aside. I like to soak them in fresh, cool water as I’m preparing the “soup” in which I cook them.
Put a pot on the stove, saute four cloves of garlic in 3/4 stick of butter. When the garlic is soft, add two cups of white wine. Once the wine, butter, and garlic are simmering, add the cleaned mussels to the broth. Put a tight fitting lid on the pot, and let the mussels simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. Remove the lid, and you should see that all the mussels are opened to reveal the steamed moluscs. Discard any that did not open. That means they are not edible.
Eat the mussels with crusty French bread, which sops up the broth! Our granddaughter is now 10, and still loves having mussels as a treat when she’s with us. “Ditto” is seen in the feature photo enjoying her third bowl of mussels of the trip. I love cooking and camping, especially when I get to do those with the people I love.
I am a geographer specializing in human systems. My passion is studying underrepresented populations so that I can assist in their integration into the communities in which they live. I studied Human Ecology because it is a wonderful blend of the disciplines of geography, anthropology and sociology. No matter the context in which I find myself, I am an observer of humans in their environments and how the influences in those settings build and nurture sense-of-self, sense-of-place, and sense-of-direction in educational, familial, and community settings. My work focuses on the cross-cultural and intercultural traditions of multi-lingual populations acculturating into their receiving communities and being successful in educational arenas of higher education. This work includes gathering, analyzing, and writing about health, well-being, and environmental/social connectedness in their communities. My research focuses on Minority-majority, rural, Midwest communities. My role as director of intercultural learning and academic success at Kansas State University allows me to discover more about myself as I work with others in their paths to self-discovery in their own interactions with students and families who come from different parts of the country and the world all converging in educational spaces. Recently, I lived, worked and played in Southwest Kansas, a region marked by Minority-majority populations centers (56% – 68%). Some of my research results are used to address poverty, low educational attainment, poor health outcomes, and cultural norms in multi-cultural settings. I work to assure a representative sample for my research, so I engage in multi-lingual research (English, Spanish, Burmese, French, Tigrinya, and Somali). Building trust and relationships is the key to my success as a multilingual researcher. Presently, my research takes me in the micro-communities of populations represented by nine African countries (Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Senegal, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Somalia, and Cameroon), seven Latin American countries, and six Asian countries. Yes, it is rural Southwest Kansas, and many of the densely-settled and frontier rural communities act as receiving centers for refugees and other displaced populations, because of the availability of jobs.
I am the recent recipient of National Geographic Society’s Research and Exploration grant to introduce Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to females of color. This inter-generational, intercultural class hosted middle school, high school, and adult females who learned the basics of GIS with a variety of applications from remote sensing to city planning to Google Earth, and to Pokémon GO! By the time the young ladies finished the class, they were able to build cities, map their communities, log trips from their countries of origin to the Midwest. I am in the mid-year of the grant funding, and my target for completion was July 2018. I have new funding to extend this work to new cohorts.
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