1. My first geographical memory is of my mother putting my fingers over our three-dimensional globe. As I felt Colombia I was told, "this is where mommy's coffee grows" and for Australia she said, "this is where the kangaroos hop." The second memory was of our National Geographic picture atlas of the world. The globe and atlas showed me the world was a vast and wonderful place. The geographer in me was born.
2. I have been an academic geographer, geographical educator, intern involved with geographical publications (National Geographic), and a professional geographer. Each have had their ups and downs. I have mostly positive impressions of each, though. The ability to use my geographical knowledge to create real world outcomes, from educating one freshman student to rebuilding Iraq, has been a huge honor.
3. I love geography because it allows me to do so many things. What other field of study can draw on economics, genealogy, geology, environmental science, history, and so many other topics in concert?
4. My favorite places are in the country side that have a view of a river. The most recent peaceful place I discovered is a bluff overlook near Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.
5. The last four countries I have been to are Iraq (presently), Germany, Canada and Aruba (Kingdom of the Netherlands). The next four I want to travel to are Ukraine, Kosovo, Israel, and Vatican City.
6. Geographical education in America is horrible but I think I found a way to teach it, at least with environmental geography. I threw out all the old tests which were just multiple choice questions such as, "What sort of sand dune is this?" or "What temperature is required to form this rock?" Instead I made free answer tests that required students to fully comprehend the subject. For instance, I gave my students a map of the local area and required students two list and explain two reasons why they would not build a house at grid location X. The answer usually was something along the lines of "Grid location X is in a flood plain and according to the map there are sinkholes in the area which could later form on poor soil and collapse the home." This required among many things, including: map reading, knowledge of the grid location and comprehension of hazards.
7. I greatly enjoy comments and e-mails from readers. It doesn't matter if you are sharing positive or critical thoughts or asking for help to understand something, I'm glad that I have the opportunity to share, and promote (and provoke) a response on a topic that I am so passionate about - geography.
As long as we are on the point of comments and e-mails, I am announcing an upcoming question and answer session with Catholicgauze! If you have questions about my doings in Iraq, the world, geographical education, or anything geographical just e-mail me at catholicgauze[at]gmail[dot]com and it will be featured in upcoming posts. Questions can be anonymous.