As a child growing up, it was a much emphasized and well established fact that education was important. This belief was born out by my parents' efforts to provide my siblings and I with many diverse experiences. Employment opportunities drove my parents to settle our family in the Middle East for several years. There I spent my earliest, formative years immersed in an environment in which values, wisdoms and learning disciplines had been molded and ripened by time from antiquity. Whether we were at home in the United States or abroad, attending public or private schools, learning through correspondence courses or tutors, education remained a unwavering priority. In spite of language barriers and other challenges, math - the most intriguing constant in my unorthodox academic pursuits - became my favorite subject. Thus, I came to understand why mathematics is considered earth's "Universal Language".
As a young woman I returned home to America after having spent some ten years abroad. I found myself full of sincere enthusiasm and armed with the conviction that knowledge connects strangers, opens doors, and empowers people. I took the opportunity to volunteer as a tutor for middle-school students, GED students, and the Public Library's Homework Help Hour. I felt such a connection to the students through math and was surprised at how different explanations of the same material improved their understanding of the subject. Much of my success in explaining difficult to grasp topics to my students came from mimicking Middle Eastern teaching styles. For example, some fourth grade students came to prefer the alternative method of long division to the standard way proposed my most Western text books. I observed children learning and had the pleasure of building their confidence along with their knowledge base and strengthening their study/learning skills. The sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that this experience brought me lead me to my current career choice. The field of education continues to intrigue me and each day my desire grows to marry techniques and methods of math education from my past in the East with the cutting edge research I am learning today.