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My name is Emma, and I am so excited to be traveling with you all this fall!  I’ve spent most of my life in West Chester, Pa, but was born in Oxford, England.  This spring I graduated from Westtown School, and next year I will be attending the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland studying international relations.  In my spare time I love to run, read, play soccer, and generally partake in spontaneous adventures.

Like most people on this trip, I also love to travel.  Most recently, I traveled to Israel and Palestine this past spring break. The dynamic between Judaism, Islam and Christianity there really ignited my interest in comparative religion, something I am excited to further explore in Myanmar, particularly with the country’s current conflict between Buddhists and Muslims.  I’m also really looking forward to fully immersing myself in the culture there, and discover what my role should be as a western tourist in this conflicted part of the world.

In case you were wondering, the adorable little furry creature in my profile picture is an Australian marsupial called a quokka. They are only found on a small island off the coast of Perth called Rottnest, and are in my opinion the cutest animals in the world. They are also responsible for my family nickname. When I first visited the island, I was two years old, and very taken with the animals. One afternoon, my family and I were on the beach and i spotted a quokka t-shirt in a nearby shop. The way my family tells the story is that I begged and begged my mother for it, and when that failed, I threw a massive temper tantrum, hopping up and down the beach and stomping my feet– my father said I resembled a little mad quokka. The nickname stuck, and I have been known to my family as the mad quokka ever since.

I like to think this childhood story reflects me as a strong-willed young girl determined to fight for what she believes is right, as opposed to a spiteful dramatically inclined toddler, but I guess you’ll have to decide that for yourself when you meet me!

Thankfully this story has a happy ending, as this Christmas I got to go back to Australia to see my family there, and we made a stop at Rottnest island. I finally got to see my beloved quokkas again, and even buy a quokka t-shirt! Luckily this time it was sans temper tantrum.

Once again, I am truly excited to be meeting you all soon, and wish everyone the best of luck over the next two weeks as we prepare to go on this amazing trip!