8B Wednesday, February 23, 2011 The Statement
"-FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA
E XPERIENCING THE BEAUTY AND
CU LTURE OF ALL 50 STATES
BY LEA HBURGIN
try, paleontology, geology - you
name it, I'm sure I learned about it
at some museum or National Park.
In fact, my siblings and I, on
occasion, corrected our teachers.
In the fifth grade, my class studied
Lewis and Clark and their explo-
ration of the unknown West. One
of the test questions for that unit
dealt with the mountain ranges
the pair crossed on their way to the
Pacific Ocean. I wrote down the
Bitterroot Mountains. My teacher
marked that answer wrong - the
correct answer was the Rocky
Mountains. After class, I had to
Jn the upstairs hallway of my
parents' house hangs a very
special quilt. Sewn by my
mother as a gift for my father's
50th birthday, the quilt has 50 pho-
tographs imprinted on the fabric.
Some of these photos feature my
father as a knee-knocking youngin'
in the '60s; some present a smiling
bearded man with his arms around
me and my siblings. In the center
of the quilt is a patchwork compass
rose with "fifty states, fifty years"
embroidered underneath. As the
quilt's central text reveals, my dad
- at age 50 - achieved his goal of
traveling to all 50 states.
For me and my siblings, that
aspiration was reached in about
half that time. By age 17, I had seen
this country, sea to shining sea. I
have been to more than 100 histori-
cal houses, museums, monuments,
attractions and national and state
parks. While this achievement is
From Page 5B
John moved to the United
States from India in 2006. She
attended an architecture pro-
gram at the University of Cincin-
nati before deciding to switch to
business. She began attending
the Ross School of Business in
fall 2009, focusing her studies on
By then she had met her hus-
band - a University post-doctor-
al graduate who works at a sales
biotech firm - and they decided
to start a family.
For John, time was of the
"We wanted to have a kid
even before I started (business)
school," John said.
"It didn't work out at that time,
-- (so) we just didn't stop trying
For John, nothing would get
in the way of starting a family -
not even the notoriously rigorous
two-year business program she
"I was more nervous about
not unique - I sometimes meet
others who can boast the same
accomplishment - it's rare. Plus,
my family doesn't count "driving
through" a state as legitimate. We
have requirements. You must spend
at least two nights in a state and do
something of historical, local or
I was unique in my group of
childhood and teenage friends.
While most people I knew got
to lounge around during school
breaks, my family was on the road
at the crack of dawn and didn't
return until the last possible min-
ute. We would go on at least three
"vacations" a year: one during win-
ter break, one during spring break
and one behemoth three-week-
long journey we would undertake
every August before school started.
And to be clear, these "vacations"
were not of the relax-on-the-beach
variety (though we have been vis-
waiting two years and not know-
ing when we were going to start
a family," John said, "So I think
it's just something I decided I
would work out ... on'a moment-
John became pregnant shortly
thereafter, and quickly began
experiencing the difficulties of
being an expectant parent and
"You feel tired and sick, and
you're hungry all the time," John
Though these effects are com-
mon among pregnant women,
John had the added burden of
having to deal with them in class-
"I found myself controlling the
nausea by constantly-eating, so I
had to eat in classes," John said.
"I just didn't have an option."
She was also forced to cut down
on some classes due to fatigue
and a period of bed rest.
John added that her classmates
and people working on projects
with her were understanding and
"My teammates were very
sympathetic and gave me tips and
iting Hilton Head Island annually
ever since I can remember). But on
a "Daddy Trip," as we called them,
we were up at dawn and at the first
stop of the day at its opening time.
We didn't return to the hotel until
"Traveling to all 50 states instilled to her that the Bit-
in me an insatiable Curiosity for are the portion of
the Rocky Moun-
the world around me." tains that Lewis
and Clark passed
after dinner. And after dinner, we through. After a phone call to my
were required to write journals of dad and corroborating evidence
everything we did during the day on the Internet, my teacher had
and what we learned. These trips no excuse but to admit I was right.
were not vacations - they were an I don't remember if I ever got that
extension of my education. point back.
And my God did I learn a lot. In Beside making me an insuffer-
addition to the general knowledge able know-it-all, traveling to all 50
I osmosed just by experiencing the states instilled in me an insatiable
cultures of different corners of the curiosity for the world around me.
country, I learned so much about It still amazes me that even with
history, literature, science, indus- all the time I've spent crossing this
country, I can return to states I've
been to and still discover new parks
and museums. It's mind-boggling
that there's so much to see and so
much to learn, just in one country
bonding experiences for me and my
family. Imagine spending three
weeks every year packed tight into
a minivan with your annoying little
sister and gross younger brother.
There was no respite: It was five
to a hotel room, five to a bath-
room and you could never escape.
We learned to deal with it and co-
exist with each other. Now, I'd say
we're as close as any siblings could
become - not only because we've
spent so much time together and
have so many stories to share and
memories to recount, but because
we three are the only people on this
planet who really understand what
it means to see America through
the fanaticism of our father. And
we three are the only people I
know who could have that bizarre
of a childhood and still, for some
reason, love to travel, love to learn
and love to be with each other.
-Leah Burgin is an LSA
sophomore and Senior Arts
Editor for The Michigan Daily
formance was largely a result of
the mental and physical stresses
of beinga new mom.
"I didn't have the time to pre-
pare for (the interviews) effec-
tively or fully be there mentally,"
John said. "I was trying to do
everything and something had to
But John said the sacrifices
she has made for Tara have been
worth it because of the strong
bond she has with her daughter.
"She's able to crawl now, and
she comes straight at me when
I walk in the door," John said.
"That's very gratifying to know
she values that relationship that
And despite the obstacles she's
faced asa new mom, she said she's
excited and up to future multi-
"That's one thing the Business
School really teaches you about,"
John said. "It teaches you to allo-
cate time and to pick what's most
John will need that abil-
ity moving forward - especially
since she's expecting a second
child this July.
helped me know what to expect,"
But as John pointed out, it's
not possible for Business stu-
dents to have a light work load,
and by summer she had scored a
big internship at Sears, Roebuck
& Co. in Chicago. Adding to her
pressures, this was during the
third trimester of her pregnancy.
The internship was cut short
when she gave birth to Tara in
"That was the end of my intern-
ship," John said with a smile.
John said adjusting to her
fall semester with an additional
member of the family wasn't easy.
"I did not know what it would
be like to look after a baby on a
day-to-day basis," John said.
Fortunately, John's mother,
travelled from India to help
raise Tara. Five months later,
her mother left and John's in-
laws moved in. John said without
their continual assistance, she
wouldn't have been able to handle
class and raising a child.
"I would have had to skip out of
(material) that's critical to your
performance in class," John said.
"I don't think it would have been
feasible to do that."
Even with the assistance of
relatives, John found the balance
In addition to taking five class-
es and studying frequently, she
had to start preparing for serious
job interviews - a prospect made
more formidable by her lack of
As John explained, attending
to Tara meant only getting an
average of four hours of sleep a
"I did have to sleep a lot less,"
John said. "I had to be there for
the baby, who was not sleeping
through the night."
Come morning, John would get
up for class at 8 a.m. and be gone
until 8 p.m., when she came home
in time to give Tara a bath, feed
her and clean her bottles before
going off to study until she felt
like she "was about to drop."
"It was exhausting to do, but I
just pushed myself to do it," John
John ultimately didn't per-
form well in the first round of job
interviews. She said her poor per-