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Milestones- Beth

Just cooking dinner at home is a treat.

It’s noon and I’ve been working for hours at my kitchen table. It’s a bright table – I purchased the fabric from a market in São Tomé e Príncipe this past summer and when I sit there, a little bit of my beloved São Tomé is with me, too.

I work from home with Waveplace Foundation now, a really remarkable organization that works to bring digital media skills to kids in the Caribbean, Latin America and Africa by incorporating the use of laptops into their education systems. A year ago, I was essentially doing this job independently, on my first trip to São Tomé. A year out of college and about as jobless as it gets, I walked into the São João Secondary School as a volunteer and saw piles of unused laptops. Months later, I’m paid to make sure no school is left in the dark, like São João was.

When I’m not in another country actually teaching this stuff, I’m at home (but really all over the world, via the Internet) supporting current pilots and coordinating new ones.

Where I now live (insert jealousy here)

Working from home is a pretty sweet deal, especially for someone who’s never home (so then it becomes “working from the road”). I have yet to build a desk or an office. Oftentimes, my notes (and therefore my mind) are scattered in one place or another. In the past year, home has always been somewhere different for me. When we launched Go Girl back in October, I was in São Tomé. Then I was in New Hampshire, Wyoming, Haiti, Connecticut, St. John, and São Tomé again. For the past year, I have been a nomad, nearly always living out of a suitcase, wherever I was. Now, I have finally built a home base in North Carolina, just outside of Wilmington, where my front yard is the ocean and my backyard is a river inlet.

Just cooking dinner at home is a treat.

At noon I’ve put in about three hours of work and the sun is blazing through our skylight. I’ve only got a few minutes, but I take that time to go across the street, strip down to a bikini and lay on the beach. When I get back I am rejuvenated, and ready to finish the rest of my work day. My boyfriend, Marvin, comes home in the evening, fresh from a 7-5 day at work. After eight months of deployment, it’s a treat to see him come home everyday and to make dinner together, knowing that he is safe and sound. It is because of Marvin that I have my job, though he doesn’t know it. My avid interest in Haiti, where his parents were born and raised, blossomed when we began dating. Now it is one of the primary locations where I work. Haitian Creole is our home’s second language.

Every few weeks, we have new neighbors. These ones are here for a week on vacation, those ones are here for a month doing military training. The turnover is faster than anywhere I have lived. It’s funny to be here for a likely two years – a lifetime when you’re in a vacation/military hotspot. I’m so used to being the one who is constantly saying goodbye. Yet now I have a relatively stable home, boyfriend and career.

I’m not usually one to make lists or put quotes in my writings, but I wanted to share some of the things that kept me going in a time of uncomfortable uncertainty:

“Everything has a good ending. If it doesn’t, it’s not the end yet.” From the Brazilian film, Deus é Brasileiro (God is Brazilian).

“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.” -Maya Angelou

“Let nothing perturb you, nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything.” Mother Teresa

To you fellow nomads, job seekers, underconfident: take heart. Things will work out for you in ways you could never imagine or expect.

Happy Birthday, Go Girl!

Beth Santos
Founder and CEO of Wanderful, creator of the Women in Travel Summit, enthusiastic lover of ice cream, picnics and art.

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