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28 Things to Do Before I’m 28

Despite my long-standing tradition of birthday goals, this year I hesitated to make a “28 Before 28” list. I’m in the process of trying to simplify my life. I’m slashing my ‘to-do’ lists and ‘to-be’ lists. But the good ol’ birthday goals seemed to make the cut, so long as...

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Reviewing my ’27 Before 27′ Birthday Goals

A wise woman told me the secret to feeling satisfaction in life is to take your ‘to-do’ list and cut it in half. I recognize this annual birthday goals tradition does not fit that model of wisdom, but I still find it rewarding. So rather than hashing out all the...

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Reflections on a New Job as a Global Curriculum Director

SIX YEARS AGO I spent the summer in a remote village in Ghana on my first major international trip. I worked in a local high school where I volunteered and researched attitudes towards reading and the British education system. I loved the kids. I loved the community. This was the experience that...

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Why We Need to Celebrate Teach For America’s 25th Birthday

In 2012 I began a challenging two-year commitment as a Teach For America (TFA) corps member in the Lawrence School District in Massachusetts. With a dropout rate of 52.3% in 2011, many Lawrence students lacked basic skills necessary to succeed in college. I helped found a school working with the most...

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Lessons from the Ugly Indian

“I have been convinced more than ever that human nature is much the same, no matter under what clime it flourishes, and that if you approached people with trust and affection you would have ten-fold trust and thousand-fold affection returned to you.” -M. K. Gandhi   My friend Ashish swerved through...

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Love Letter to Sweden

Dear Sweden, I’m sorry I never really noticed you in the corner of the world. It was always Austin who wanted to be with you. I’ve spent the better part of my life oblivious to your charms. I’ll just come out and say it—after our latest get together I think...

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The First Thanksgiving with My Pilgrim Ancestor, William Bradford

Almost four hundred years ago my great, great+ grandpa, William Bradford, sailed on the Mayflower into Cape Cod into what is now Provincetown, Massachusetts. He later became the mayor of Plymouth Plantation and played a significant role in its history. Even though I have lived in this state for a...

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A Thai Lantern Funeral for my Grandma

EACH FALL THAILAND celebrates Yi Peng, the iconic floating lanterns festival held on the first full moon in the second month according to the Lanna lunar calendar. Last year I watched the sky light up with masses of Lanna-style khom loi lanterns, each carrying a wish, a plea for good luck, or a farewell to old habits...

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A Tribute to Walden Pond

I crunch through leaves and smell wet bark at Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. Yellow and crimson leaves line the path and cluster at the edges of the dark water. I drop pebbles into the pond and watch the ripples. A school of tiny fish scatters. I am alone except...