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Coming from the land of cheese, I broke the mold and stayed in my hometown to get a BA in German and International Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. The plan was to study, play softball, travel, and ride my bike in Europe and eventually study abroad. In Summer 1988 I studied German in Greifswald, East Germany and the following year I participated in the UWSP Semester in Poland in Fall 1989. (Yes, I was there when the Berlin Wall came down!) Before starting graduate school at the University of Kansas, I completed a three-week bike tour of Ireland and then traveled to Bratislava, Slovakia to live with a family and teach English to students and professionals. The goals were to learn the language and attend to my wanderlust which I did! In graduate school I focused on East Central Europe and in 1994 received an IREX (International Research and Exchanges Board) grant to study Polish in Wroclaw, Poland. My dissertation on the Polish minority in Czechoslovakia in the early 1920s was supported with research/travel grants from the Fulbright Foundation and IREX. After finishing my PhD in Modern Russian and East Central European History in 1999, I taught at several different state universities in Wisconsin and Minnesota. I began teaching at Fort Lewis College in August 2004.