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Last month in Mindanao

well I didn't make good on keeping the page updated - have been writing tons but not sure I feel like it's shareable yet... hope you are well. I'll be back in NY Dec 20 (inshallah) and making a fleeting visit to London Jan 4-9 - so maybe catch up with you soon.

Diary Entries

Monday, 12 November 2007

Location: Philippines, Australasia

wow - am more than half way through grad school now, one month left of an amazing 6-month stay in Asia, mostly in the Philippines. Learning a lot about building peace - although that probably sounds crazy. Since I'm short on time, I'll just share my favorite wisdom from one of the indigenous leaders I met with recently, Datu Apo Marshall Daul:

Some don't know how to catch fish because they haven't seen. So they are ignorant....

When indigenous people come to the city they are ignorant of different streets. But in mountains we easily know which riverbed, which path – which is for the person, which is for the wild pig. You come to our place you will get lost also. I come to your place, I will get lost.

Where is the meeting ground so we can understand?… Let us establish where we can meet so we will not get lost.

When I come to your place, you will guide me. When you come to mine, I will guide you.

If all will look at this, we will have peace.

Lots of love - hope to be with you soon. xo KM

Tuesday, 05 June 2007

Location: headed to Davao City, Mindanao, Philippines

Hi friends - for any of you who still do some surfing now and then (of the web), I'm going to revive this page.

I'm about to leave the comforts of home (spending a week with my parents after fininshing the first year of grad school, getting spoiled while I deal with some paperwork and preparatory headaches) and head to Asia!

I'll be in Cambodia and Thailand for about 20 days before heading to Davao City, Mindanao, the Philippines. I'll be working there til Mid-December. Look me up if you'll be passing through. More once I hit the road.


Monday, 17 April 2006

Location: Boston, USA

So my unbelievable lucky streak continues - I got into the masters program of my dreams. I'll be studying at Notre Dame's Kroc Institute of International Peace Studies (and yes, I realize this sounds funny - as an English friend said, that sounds a bit like the 'Pratt Institute' does to the Brit ear - it's named for Joan Kroc, who donated a big chunk of money, such that all of us are fully funded!) starting in August for 2 years. The first year, we all live and study together (about 15-20 students in the cohort) in Indiana, and then we go off to various locations around the world (last year's were in South Africa, east Africa, the Middle East and southeast Asia) to do some kind of peace work (it takes many shapes) and then come back and wrap up. Then, who knows what? Some seem to go into government work or non-gov't organizations, the UN, or policy making, or education...many possibilities by the sound of it, and the program's been going for about 20 years, so they have a robust alumni network. We shall see.

They've invited students from Liberia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Georgia, the Philippines, Japan, China, the US, Canada, Egypt and Iraq. Should be amazing to live, study and work with this group. Hoping to have lots of stories to share soon...

Meanwhile, have found this spring overwhelmingly envigorating... (for anyone who's seen the last update) my friend who was hit by a car in December is recovering pretty well. I've taken advantage of being 'local' and seen friends and family who used to be a rare treat. I'm still loving my work at Peace Games ( - check it out!). I even scored a spot in a belly dancing troupe. (Yep, seriously.) I've even taken to writing a few poems lately, and reading many more than I write. I'll be here enjoying Boston til mid-June (a few visitors are already lined up - get in touch soon if you want to stop in), and I think I might try to squeeze in one last self-indulgent loop around the world before I start school. Anyone want to join me?

Hope the spring is treating you well. Stay in touch

Wednesday, 04 January 2006

Location: Boston, USA

In most years since 1976, my Dad has captured the development of our flawless personalities, innumerable outstanding achievements and exceptional contributions to society in annual family epistles entitled ‘The Mansfields at Christmas.’ This year I continued coming to terms with my flaws, felt at various moments like an exceptional underachiever and tried to figure out how I got so lucky as to be around people who really did contribute to society, fading in their glow. Ha, ha, yes, our clever daughter Katie…

Anyway, having intended (not having been officially employed for over 18 months, with the exception of my first ‘summer job’ since college) to get cards out this festive season – and, as usual, not quite managing – I am trying at least to get something out before the calendar calls for a mass Valentine. I’ve kept in touch with a few of you, so for some the following may be old news; but for those of you I’ve neglected, here’s my scoop:

Mostly it was a fantastic year, starting out sunny and clear (if not clear-headed) in Sydney, Australia… I sure loved being in the southern hemisphere in January and February. Having celebrated 29 prior birthdays in either the northeastern US or England, I welcomed the non-existent chance of a blizzard ruining my birthday party in Melbourne. Wow, I almost just followed in Dad’s footsteps of listing every person I visited there – guess that’s my joy, not yours…but thanks to everyone who put me up (and put up with me) during the visit, and congrats to the various newlyweds!

I spent about a month on New Zealand’s South Island as well; I’ve been trying to figure out my odds on emigrating for months since…guess it’s cliché at this point, but what an extraordinary corner of the planet. Highs: seeing sperm whales, giant albatross and dusky dolphins, penguins and fur seals, exploring the glacial blue ice caves, ‘tramping’ for seven days in the wilderness around the Lake Wakatipu region and seeing all of five other people, skydiving from 12,000 feet, enjoying Kiwi hospitality. Lows: not many, though a) finding out while on a swim-with-the-seals outing that great whites do in fact feed on seals, and yes, they could be found in these waters (gulp), and b) sliding uncontrollably down a steep hill covered in tussocks and rocks, some parts of which sloped off as cliffs (thank you for stopping me Phillip!), were both humbling moments.

After brief stops back in Australia to wish friends well in Melbourne and Perth, I made my way back to India. My original itinerary had me seeing southeast Asia at that time, but I was lured back to India (after a visit there in November 2004) to attend the teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala and do some volunteer work while living with an incredible family outside New Delhi. The guy I worked with was Shantum Seth, who’s a Zen Buddhist teacher in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh and a long-time worker for the United Nations Development Program in India. His mother was the first woman High Court Justice in India, and if I keep going on about the others in the family I’ll just embarrass myself…it was an amazing place to learn about human accomplishment, and it also sparked an interest in peace education that has at this stage developed into hopeful grad school plans. (More on that shortly.)

I made one last stop in Europe, visiting friends and playing tourist in Lyon, Paris, Italy’s Cinque Terre and Lake Como, and London, before heading back to the US to visit friends and family at home.

Then I did something probably more suited to a college kid than the mature woman I am (really) – worked at a summer camp in Ashford, Connecticut. No ordinary summer camp, the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp hosts over 1,000 children with life-threatening illnesses in its nine 7-day sessions from the beginning of June to the end of August. I was the Nature Specialist and Camping Staffer, which meant that on a day-to-day basis I conducted the Nature program (amusing given my total lack of knowledge when it came to plants and animals – though I learned quickly enough), which meant inventing and facilitating games and activities for rainy and sunny days, often introducing the program with a frog puppet and using camp songs and having bugs and worms crawl on me to get everyone involved. Just like Goldman Sachs. For the Camping part of my job, I helped with food prep, hauling coolers, barbequing, supervising groups about 25 campers at a time on overnight camp-out experiences, and doing dishes – also eating too many s’mores. Of course, the unpredictable Connecticut weather meant we didn’t have too many overnights under the stars, and I’m not sure I ever earned my fire-building badge…though if they had a badge for barbequing in the rain, I might just qualify! Probably needless to say, the kids – and staff members – were pretty inspiring, and I felt lucky to get to work with and learn from them. (I also felt a little old for the first time, as the most staffers were 19-25.)

In the weeks after camp, I made a whirlwind tour ranging as far north as Maine, as far south (not very far) as Pennsylvania, and as far west as Wisconsin, with stops in Chicago (for Nancy’s nuptials!), New Jersey and New York.

That tour’s conclusion officially marked the end of roughly three decades in which I always had a plan. I was pretty daunted, crying more than I had reason to and wondering if it might not just be better to get a job and have easier answers to ‘where do you live?’ and ‘what do you do?’ It was a lot more romantic answering ‘I’m traveling around the world…’ than ‘well, I’m really not so sure.’ I ended up making temporary plans to crash with my dear friend Dana from Pine Street (where I grew up), who lives in Watertown, Massachusetts, not far from where I went to college, to embark on a new stage of life in some familiar surroundings. I picked up Pema Chödrön’s Living with Uncertainty and When Things Fall Apart, as well as a few more travel guides (in case I chose an escape hatch). I went to Harvard’s Office of Career Services, amused when I heard a current undergrad approach the resource desk, asking, ‘What do I have to do to get a job in Australia?’ (Yeah, me too?) Also felt a little old there, as most of the ‘career’ seekers were there in search of their first jobs…

Anyway, I got in touch with former classmate Eric Dawson, who started this program Peace Games in Boston around the time we finished college. To simplify, the program falls under the violence prevention umbrella. A more complete picture: they partner with schools to build a culture of peacemakers over the course of a multi-year partnership, providing resources for educators, bringing volunteers into the schools to facilitate a cooperative games-based curriculum with children K-8 (roughly age 7 to 14), and reaching out to the communities. They’re now in schools in LA, NY and Chicago too, and I spent a few months volunteering with them (here in Boston) both as a volunteer working with a class of third-graders once a week and doing some strategic planning. Recently, that volunteer work has turned into a more official arrangement they’ve kindly entitled the ‘Peace Games Germeshausen Peace and Justice Fellowship,’ which may be pretty handy in my application for grad school. I’ll be working on some interesting projects in the months ahead, and the people at Peace Games couldn’t be much nicer.

In the course of all this I found out about a masters program at Notre Dame (figured after NY and London, South Bend, Indiana was the natural next step) entitled the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, which is a two-year masters including a six-month field study abroad. It looks like a great learning opportunity, though my chances of getting in aren’t too hot; the program admits fifteen people each year, 75% of whom are typically international students. So I’ve taken my GRE, mailed my application and crossed my fingers. I’ll find out in April.

Meanwhile, living in Watertown (just outside of Boston) with my oldest childhood friend has been fun, and I’ve been free to take lots of dance classes – ranging from tap and ballet to belly dancing and African dance – and practice some yoga and meditation. Have also gotten to catch up with other local friends, though you working people sure do have a lot of commitments...

The end of this year was kind of hairy, as a close friend was hit by a car despite his walking in the cross-walk, with the light (just a few yards in front of me, just behind other friends). I’m hopeful that he’s on the road to full recovery, but the situation certainly shed more light on life’s unpredictability and the difficulties faced by people without resources like health care, friends and family (fortunately Dan had those in abundance).

I’m at my length limit, and you may have stopped reading some time ago, so I’ll close by saying I’m so thankful to have you in my life. I wish you a peaceful, joyous 2006. Torn between encouraging fearlessness and not wanting anyone to cross the street ever again, I’ll just say take good care of yourself.

Lots of love,

Thursday, 06 October 2005

Location: Watertown, MA, USA

hello friends...

A few months ago, I had the great luxury of sitting in Dharamshala at the Cloud's End (?) guest house in the company of mindful wanderers, reflecting on the week we'd just spent attending the teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, checking out the surrounding Himalayan foothills, and meditating. Pico Iyer, a writer (about travel et al.) joined us for this reflective discussion; his words spilled forth effortlessly, magically. He wove his own experiences in with ours, to make us all feel like we, too, had a gift of articulation and perspective and insight. I felt almost self-congratulatory, as we discussed the concepts of enjoying the journey, seeing the joy in each moment, living simply, among others; my cup did, at that moment, runneth over with hundreds of examples of how I had done that in my almost-year traveling. I then asked a question, something along the lines of 'I will have traveled for over a year before I next settle down somewhere...can you discuss your experiences getting back into a routine after an extended journey?' Pico responded that he didn't know, he hadn't traveled for such a length of time; I should let him know how it goes. I smiled nervously, feeling part intrepid - after all, I'd come so far, climbed high, made it back in one piece, and here I was partaking in an exchange of philosophy around travel and cultural ambassadors and monastic living with some semi-famous folks - and part concerned, but only as concerned as I was lying on my stomach overlooking the ocean from the cliffs at Dun Aengus. Sort of that exhilarated concern of that is far more about happy adrenaline-pumping than about tear-inducing anxiety.

So that was just a few months ago; March, to be exact. Now I'm actually having to face up to my question, and some of that intrepid, exhilarated feeling has disappeared...a bit more fun lying cliffside on my belly, I guess, or chewing the fat with a travel writer and Buddhist pilgrims in the Dalai Lama's hometown (ok, in exile) than trying to settle into a community on a long-term (?) basis. Now that I'm 'in one place,' I am feeling this pressure to do something great, to re-invent myself on as grand a scale as the journey from which I'm taking a pause. Don't get me wrong, I'm not at the point of neurotic nail-biting or self-pity, but I did have a dream a few nights ago that summed things up nicely: in the dream, I re-joined GS in NY (the same offices in which I made my start in corporate America), but I didn't know what my job was, and all the people working there rolled their eyes at me. Yep.

For any of you in or around Boston (temporarily or otherwise), do drop me an email... at the moment I've got more free time than I know what to do with (yes, I do recognize what a gift that is...)! I'm filling my time with some job and education research, some volunteer work, and lots of dance classes (in the last week, I took my first tap and ballet classes in about 13 years - as well as belly dancing and yoga). But in between my taking-advantage-of-the-free-time- -because-I-know-it-won't-last sessions, I'm also preoccupied with how to find an engaging, somewhat challenging job with benefits and some kind of salary, working alongside reasonable, nice, motivated people. I guess the bottom line is that I'm asking too much...after becoming my own hero by breaking away from the 8-year corporate ladder, I'm not sure there's a good way to sustain that status!

A few weeks ago, I got to discuss my uncertain status with a neighbor here in Watertown. She, too, had taken a year to travel round the world: 'Best year of my life,' she said, 'followed by the worst.' Essentially, she suggested I brace myself for re-entry.

So here I am. Brace, brace!

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Recent Messages

From Milena Ivanova
Hi Kate,

I hope that all is well with you!

I have been checking for updates but there have not been any since June.

Where are you now and what is keeping you busy these days.
Response: Milena - I just thought of you this morning, remembering our talks before I left. How are your twins?

I am well, now trying to figure what comes next - more travel, or find a job or apply for grad school... uncertain!

Drop me a line on my email:

Miss you, and hope you and yours are well
From Sharon Goldberg
Dear Katie,

Haven't heard from you in a while and just wanted to shout a hello from stateside. Sounds like you are having an amazing time. Just wanted to let you know that Ilan and I bought a house in NJ. So, this summer we can keep you in higher style.....

All the best and a happy belated....
Response: Hi honey! Just discovered this feature on my page (10 months into travel)!! Anyway, will arrive back in the USA May 2, reporting to my 'job' June 3 - going to be a camp counselor in CT! Anyway, will email you more soon. In India one more week - all amazing - then about 20 days in Europe, then I'll be back. See you soon! V exciting re house. xoxo KM
From tineke
kaatie, ia am curious to hear about what your plans are about working in the summer, i readed something in your diary, but didn't understood it. What is the meaning of mellow? you are using words i not know, anyway it's good for my english to follow your travelstories. kisses Tineke
Response: mellow - calm, relaxed, 'low-key,' tranquile in italiano!

Tineke, I will be in London April 13-21, then in France/Italy for 10 days, then I will go back to the states. I will be working this summer in a summer camp for children with terminal illness. I am really excited about the job! Also, I think I am going to be working over the next few years on a peace education curriculum with my friend here in India (with whom I've been staying/working for the last month); I am hoping it gives me an excuse to go to Holland in the next few months!

I'll write more soon. Thanks for staying in touch.

Tanti baci
From Milly
Oh my goodness, I am so jealous of your trip...the photos are amazing, NZ truely is the most spectacular place on Earth! Really missing you as always Katie. Justin and I moved into the love nest last weekend and are so so happy there, I can't wait for you to see it!!

love and light always my special friend!
Milly xxx
Response: Oh my goodness - I did not realise all these messages were here - I have 40 just sitting here from the start of my trip through last month... ah! Looking forward to spending a good night on the 14th. xoxo KM
From Bonny Masson
Hey Katie! We're enjoying your adventures. Keep it coming. We are really impressed with the quality of your photos- what's your camera?
John says'hello' too- he is busy painting the stairwell!
We are off to Tignes, France, as the ski season starts this Sat for us but will be picking up mail. Hope to see you sometime,
Ciao! Bonny
Response: Hi Bonny - shamefully I just realised all these messages were sitting here on my site; I religiously check my yahoo email, but I didn't realise these were all tucked away in the planetranger folder... Anyway, I'll be in the UK for about a week starting April 13 - I assume you are still skiing, or is the season over now? If you happen to be around, maybe I can swing a quick visit up to Wales...if not, then on my way back. Still can't believe I made it to 6750m...what was I thinking?! Hope you had a wonderful ski season, and thanks for the note. xo
From Peter Altman
Hi Katie:
Your mom gave me your web site. Glad to hear you are having a great time. Looking forward to seeing you during the holidays??
Peter A.
Response: Hi Peter - I just found all these emails today (I always check my yahoo acct, but didn't realize there was a whole folder of messages here)! So anyway, I'll be back in the US May 2, working for the summer at a camp in Connecticut. So hopefully we can see each other in the summertime. Think I might have even figured out a direction for my future... we shall see. You must be excited about becoming an uncle (soon)! Lots of love, Katie
From Kim Huston
Hey Girlie!

How are you? Sounds like you're doing great. Your mom gave me your website, which is amazing. I'll share it with jeff & Greg. Not a whole going on here, definately busy with the kids and work. Kyle is turning 1 today, so we're having a big bash for him on Saturday, Taylor started pre-school and is taking gymnastics. I'm still working full-time at Vanguard, however, I'm counting down my days until retirement. As of now, I'll probably be resigning next year to take time off. I'll probably go back once the kids are in school all day.

Tom is doing well, definately busy at work.

I can't believe all you did since (I think it started in June), definately a trip of a lifetime. I can't wait to read about your adventures.

Hopefully, we'll get to see you and your family soon.
Take Care,
Love, Kim
Response: Wow - Kim, so nice to hear from you! I hadn't realized I have all these messages sitting on this website inbox...anyway, better late than never.

Glad to hear the kids are doing well - I'll be back in the US for the whole summer, starting May 2, and I'm hoping to catch up with so many - hard to believe the next generation is so big (in numbers, and also aging - Timmy will be 12!?! in June)... with much love to your whole gang (and your brothers and theirs)
From Coz Geoff
Hi Coz - you certainly seem to get around, as they say! Looking forward to reading your "Tales from the Vomit Zone" and other Himalayan stories! And does this Sicilian Adventure mean you won't now be hitting the India trail? Dad and I are going to Burma in March with eight of his fellow veterans to revisit their fighting days - just hope he will last it in the jungles at the age of 88. You probably heard about our luggage disaster at JFK: we're still waiting for decent compensation but won't give up without a fight! Claude & Alex busy wedding planning for 5th August 2006 so put it in your diary. Issy & Jake probably follow a bit later but no definites on that one so don't quote me! Haven'y heard of Coldwell Banker but am about to search the internet. We must invite you round to cook some of those fabulous sounding dishes - if you haven't been married off and saddled with a gaggle of kids, that is!!! Love Geoff & Liz
Response: Hello Coz! How was the Burma journey? I'm hoping you made it - quite ambitious at 88, but wonderful. Am in my last week in India, in fact, and instead of pursuing the dolce vita by pursuing a greedy, crooked career in Sicilian real estate (WHAT WAS I THINKING!?), I'm now entertaining helping to build a peace education curriculum for India - how fickle I am. Though I must say, I've been reviewing this potential situation with much deeper thought and greater sobriety than the last one! Anyway, am bound for the UK April 13; will then be going back to the states for at least the next 4 months. What happens after that is as yet uncertain. Much love to you and yours, and hope to hear about the Burma trip! Cousin Katie
From hywel
have fun in tibet - always wanted to do that!
Response: HG - wow! Somehow I overlooked the fact that this web page holds emails for me; I've been good about keeping up with my yahoo account, but just managed to find your message (and 40 others!) here today. Hope GS is treating you well - how was that month off last year, anyway? Life-changing? Seemingly aeons ago? Anyway, I'll be popping in next week, as I have one last week in the UK before heading to the states for the summer. I'll be working as the 'Nature Specialist' and 'Camping Assistant' at a summer camp for kids with terminal illness in Connecticut. Should be good - my new start?

Give my best to the team, and I hope you and your family are well. KM
From victoria wyld
Hi Kate...think I may have missed the boat before you head off to Kathmandu...sorry was away on hols myself last week...Andalucia and as I am sure you will agree twas amazing!! Was trawling through my e-mails and realised that you were off again too soon..ah well will be one of the first you arrive to on your return! things going well at work ......not sure if you heard or not but people are still dropping like flies...Mats Langensjo, Sam Ward, Alexandra Ellemeet and Richard Norval have all resigned or late.....cannot believe people are still moving so late in the year...makes you think hey?? We've also moved desks to be nearer the perf team ( oh and to keep an eye on your guys better from here!) ..Caroline went out to see Sami Kell in Chicago recently...she seems well ..though the impression I got was that she was travelling loads more than she thought etc....think that's pretty much;s really hard to tell how much you have written in this tiny space!! Ah well a little bit of drivel doesn't do any harm from time to sound like you are having an amazing time missus...long may it continue..... take good care of you....oh incidentally have you read "touching the void"...a must for whilst you are climbing ...if nothing else it will inspire you on the tougher legs of your journey!! Well as I said take good care of theee......Vxx
Response: Vic - thanks so much for your message - hadn't seen these emails until TODAY - they are sort of squirreled away! Anyway, hope 2005 is treating you well. I'll be in the UK for a week April 13-20, so I'm sure I'll pop round CCC at some point. Hope to see you, and hope you're coping well with all the change. Am in India now, and it's been fantastic. Best wishes, KM
From Oldest Aunt Kate
Katie I enjoy reading about your adventures..your mom seems to be holding up alright...I know that Grandma Locasto is with you and enjoying everywhere you you and am praying for a very safe adventure.
Aunt Kate in Kentucky
Response: Aunt Kate in Kentucky, I have been totally remiss - didn't notice these messages on this site. Anyway, hope the spring is treating you well; I'll be back in the USA for the summer - hopefully we can get together! Lots of love, Katie PS - I do feel her with me all along the way, especially when a waft of gardenia (or honeysuckle or jasmine, which all remind me of gardenia) comes my way!
From tess
Great way to stay in touch. My Mom and I loved seeing you and learning about your past, present, and future journeys.
Didn't realize Delhi was on your itinerary. Very envious.
Newphew Tom, Art's son, just started working for GS , believe trading.
Will live vicariously through you and your travels.
Aunt Elizabeth dropped in on AM of my garden tour. She greeted visitors as I rushed to get myself together. Cute - she would say, I'm not owner just cousin.
Will anticipate your adventures.
I send you my good graces for a bon voyage - inside and outside.
Response: Tess! Thanks so much for your message; I foolishly had not checked this little pocket of this website, had only been leaving my updates and not realizing there was a batch of 40 mails waiting for me! Anyway, am wrapping up 6 weeks in India now; the time started with 10 days up in Dharamshala hearing the Dalai Lama's teachings in a huge crowd of Tibetans. At the moment I'm sitting in the UN office in Delhi, doing some research on building a Peace Education Curriculum either for India and/or internationally...v exciting, think I've found what I want to spend the next few years on. More soon, lots of love