I was born in Tunkhannock ,Pennsylvania (1980) and am the oldest of four children. I consider myself a corporate child because my father worked at Proctor & Gamble for 23 years. As my father’s career developed our family moved state to state and country to country. When I was 10 we moved from our small town Meshoppen, PA to Cincinnati, Ohio. We lived there for about 13 months and then moved again to Belleville, Ontario in Canada. When I was 15 we moved back to Cincinnati, the home of P&G’s world head quarters. I attended a wealthy suburban high school and then attend college at Ohio University (OU), in Athens Ohio.
While attending OU I began to realize just how fortunate I am. Sycamore did an excellent job of preparing me for college system. My parents helped me pay for most of school and so I was able to graduate debt free. Upon graduating from college, I was not sure what I wanted to do, but I felt no sudden urge to chase a career or strike out on my own. Along with others of my generation I became known as the "Boomerangs," those post college educated folk who lived at home after graduating. I substitute taught and coached swimming at my high school. Wow, I went away to college to come back to high school? In 2005 I returned to school to earn my Masters of Arts in Sociology at the University of Cincinnati. While taking classes I worked for UC to help pay for my degree. I am so fortunate to have been given these educational opportunities.
In graduate school I studied and learned about a group of people who were changing their lifestyles and consumption habits because of their beleifs. Known as Ecovillagers, these communal oriented environmentalists strive to live an ecologically sustainable lifestyles to help ensure a just and equitable future for all living beings on this planet. It was through my interaction with this social movement and my studies in environmental sociology at UC, that I gained a much richer and broader understanding of the world. I was able to study the lifestyle I am interested in living while furthering my academic credentials.
Since graduating I have been teaching at UC and and thinking about how I wanted to help make a difference in the world. Despite my biases, I do not want to dictate ideology. A year ago I met Grace Conrad and we discovered our shared passion to change the world with our own two hands. This bike trip is us peddling for the people, for all of humanity. This is us giving our own blood, sweet, tears, time, money, prayer, and hope. This is us asking for your to give as well.
Born in Chattanooga, TN, one look at me you would think I reflect another typical American. But behind my brown eyes and European features, lies an Asian identity. I was raised in Japan from the young age of 10 months old. Although I remember traveling to the United States when I was young, the real move back to America occcured when I was finishing high school in Japan. Choosing Chicago as my city was not difficult because of its similarities to Tokyo. Following some of my friends, I attended North Park University. I am grateful for all of those whom I came to know during my time there.
Life is not easy and things do not typically go the way we wish. I thank my parents who still reside back in Japan for the upbringing they provided me. However, it has been outside of their prtoective arms that I have grown to become who I am now. It has been through this freedom, that I have come to see, feel, touch, sense what really matters in life.....
The year is 2009, what would you like to do, what would you like to get out of life? Have you ever reversed that question: what would you like to give? We live in a world of consumption, a world of inequality and unfairness. In the summer of 2001 I spent a month in Haiti. Seeing and experiencing the poverty first hand, the desire to change something, to help out in some way, has been building since. Do we see the truth and close our eyes? Do we walk away and hope that someone else deals with these issues? Are the problems too large for us to face? I think not. We created this "world," and through greed and pride, we have pushed away, or worse, killed off so many of our brothers and sisters. We have all read history books or have heard the stories of war and distruction and the resulting aftermath..... You think we would have learned from our past mistakes, but history seems to be repeating itself....
Let me be honest, I enjoy many comforts on a daily basis. I love to run and swim, and engage in physical activities. I'm a sucker for a good cup of coffee after a hot shower in the morning. I eat well, enjoy the art of cooking, and love the happy buzz acquired from few glasses of wine. I admit that I have a pretty good life. I am spoiled. This is exactly what I wish to let go. I want to be closer to my inner-self, to learn what it is like to live on less, to live day to day, and take it all in from a different perspective. I want to break away from the life that I live for myself. I want to help others.
The idea of a bike trip across the country came about one day last May, while Alan and I were discussing things we have always wanted to do. We are both blessed with health and physical fitness. Something I take for granted way too often. Writers create beauty with words, painters create beauty with a brush, but what about me? I want to give my energy, my physical capability to make a statement, to create something beautiful. I want to step out of this society, to show that we don't need everything that we want. I want to fight for the weak and raise awareness that change is possible.....
"Become the change you want to see in the world." -Ghandi
I have started up my fundraising page for Acirfa (www.firstgiving.com/graceconrad). Please take a moment to learn more about the Bikes for Africa organization at: www.abikes.org!