K. Sue Giovanini
Where you are from?: Colorado Springs, CO
Where you currently live: Denver, CO
PacRim trip/year: Winterim 1983
College Major: Psychology
Occupation: Teacher – High School Social Studies
Research/370 Topic: n/a
Best PacRim memory: I travelled to Europe a few times before joining PacRim. So, I had a little experience being outside the USA.
However, the first two days in Bangkok were surreal – the bustle, the noise, the traffic, an alphabet I could make no sense of, and the strange food. I was slow to take it all in. One day, five of us rented a tuk-tuk with a great driver and we explored the city. By the end of that day, I felt immensely excited, and strangely, very comfortable in these incredibly different surroundings. This awareness remained with me from then on, wherever we travelled. My experiences were no longer surreal. Nothing new was strange, just different. I wanted to experience everything. That feeling of comfort and excitement remains with me today, even when I travel solo in Asia.
Best care package item: Being gone for less than a semester, I did not receive one.
Best item brought with you on the trip: Do not remember
Best thing I brought back: A yak shawl from Nepal that is incredibly warm. I take it with me on all overseas flights and many continental flights.
Where you've returned to: Thailand; I have not returned to Sri Lanka due to their Civil War; I have not returned to Nepal. But, I have visited several countries bordering where we studied – Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bhutan, and of course India
Favorite Food on PacRim: sticky rice in Bangkok, whatever was cooked in a wok in Chaing Mai, anything from a restaurant in Kathmandu – **Best food of all – learning to eat and appreciate what was put in front of me; I stopped being such a picky eater because of PacRim
Favorite Place: The road trip half of our group made in Sri Lanka. We climbed amazing rock monuments; visited superb Buddhist statues; explored everything we could. It was all a blast!!
Post College Plans:
I went on PacRim thinking I was heading for an advanced degree in psychology. After PacRim, the desire just was not there. But it still took a few more years before I fully recognized my passion - to learn about the world and to teach it, especially culture and religion. I created a career teaching public high school – Comparative World Religions and World Geography are my favorite courses.
I never imagined that I would return to Asia with the frequency and fervor that I have. Travelling in Asia – anywhere - is more frustrating and challenging than travelling in Europe as it demands much more of you physically and mentally. Yet, I love it because I learn and grow, and because I always touch something out of the ordinary. Each time, I return home feeling closer to God.
Affect on my life:
My mindset and scope are much larger than my neighborhood, my city, or my country. As I ponder partaking of a unique volunteer opportunity, I think of what I could do in Asia. I started a book club that focuses on foreign authors and authors who write about other countries. When given the opportunity to make a Buddhist pilgrimage in India with an important Rimpoche from Sikkim, India, I did not hesitate to join 100 Chinese Buddhists.
PacRim opened a very big door for me. Many of my values and my deepest beliefs about life developed from my time in Asia.