Susan, a St. Mary of the Valley High School alumna, graduated in 1986. Her two children, Jack and Eloise, attended Valley Catholic Elementary School until 2007 when the family moved to Mexico City for her husband’s job.
Q. What did you learn from your time at St. Mary of the Valley/Valley Catholic that has helped you most in your move to Mexico?
A. Our class was pretty diverse, with girls from a number of different cultures, so I learned acceptance of different nationalities. Also, my best friends were Cuban so I learned some Spanish from them.
Q. What one word would you use to describe yourself?
Q. What are you most proud of?
A. I am most proud of our family. Jack is 10 1/2 now and Eloise is 8, so they were 7 and 5 when we made the move. They are both bi-lingual and constantly correcting my Spanish. We live in an area that had 45 US ex-patriot families when we arrived. Now there are fewer than 10 of us left. The kids have made friends and have had to watch them leave time after time. But they are resilient and really enjoy living in Mexico too.
Q. What memory or experience from high school stands out the most in your mind?
A. I would have to say our Junior Encounter. I don’t know if they still do this, but it was an amazing time for each of us in our class. Of course, we were all girls back then, and we went to a camp for three or four days to learn more about ourselves and each other. It was so emotional and we all bonded.
Q. Your children used to attend school on our campus. How did their experiences compare with your own?
A. Well, it was different in that when I went, there were no boys and many more Sisters teaching. To belong to what was called Service Club was such an honor… standing in the halls telling other students, “no talking, single file, stay to the right and no skipping stairs.” You were proud to belong to that group!
We plan on re-enrolling the kids when we get back to Beaverton … some day.
Q. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
A. I am very lucky to have lots of spare time down here. I golf, read, play bridge and work on my Spanish. Mexico is an amazing country and we are trying to travel and discover it a little at a time… not just the beaches and resorts!
Q. You planned your reunions in 2001 and 2006, what was your fondest memory of gathering with your classmates?
A. Getting up to date with everyone, meeting spouses and learning about where they are living and their families.
Q. Since moving to Mexico City what have been your biggest triumphs?
A. Learning the language and being more tolerant. Nothing happens quickly here and it usually takes a few times to get it right! Many things cause me to throw my hands up and shake my head. When I first moved here I started keeping a notebook in my car where I could write down all the things that frustrated me (traffic, pollution, inefficiencies) and on the flip side I would write the things that I liked about Mexico and living down here (maids, food, living on a golf course). It helped keep things in perspective when I wanted to scream!
Q. What surprised you the most about the Mexican culture?
A. How truly hard-working everyone is.
Q. Where do you hope to be in 10 years?
A. Well, the kids will be older then so I would have to say on another ex-patriot assignment. I see families without children or older children that can really take advantage of everything a host country has to offer. Right now, being away from my family is very difficult for all of us.