Who remembers the shy, skinny little 14-year old blond from North Carolina who took 1st runner-up in the last of the Teen Queen contests in 2007? Perry, Georgia, was the scene and Don Shafer was President, but let me backtrack a few years. Her first Airstream trip was as an 8-year old to International at Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with adventuresome side trips to The Grand Tetons, Yellowstone National Park (including a late June snow storm), and the Badlands. At the rally she was taken under the broad wings of retired teachers and engineers who had a good time teaching her math tricks, particularly Bob Vasser. Where is she now? Two years later she attended International at Lansing, Michigan, where she and a friend beat the reigning Joker champions, much to their mortification. They looked into the future and could see what was coming. Next was Burlington, Vermont, and then on to Perry.
Who would have thought that after just one year of lessons she could play the piano so beautifully, or be so articulate in her required speech courses, encumbered with braces and inexperience? So what was next? After Perry she studied in Peru for a year, teaching herself Spanish. After high school, she spent a summer in France as an au pair where she “picked up” French. Duke University scooped her up as a language major that included studies in Argentina, Madrid, and southern France. Her most recent Airstream trip was all the way from Virginia to California with stops in The Painted Desert, Petrified Forest, and a blind folded, hand-in-hand walk to the edge of the Grand Canyon.
After the cross-country expedition, we unloaded five years’ worth of possessions for a fully-funded Ph.D. program in Iberian and Latin American Studies at Stanford University. Besides towers of books that are required reading and long papers in three languages, she is teaching Spanish and Portuguese.
She has often told us that her experiences with the fine folks that are Airstreamers had a tremendous influence in her confidence and ability to interact in the wider world. So thank you WBCCI from Paul and Cynthia Pearce, the proud and happy grandparents of Alexis Pearce.