Board Member Profile – Kimberly James


bio3“Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.”
― Anna Quindlen,

Books have been a part of my life ever since I was little. My mother read to me from birth, and I have loved books since I was a kid. Some of my favorite picture books are: “The Monster at the End of the Book”, “Where the Wild Things Are”, and “The Snowy Day”. Growing up I was fortunate to live down the street from the main library. Each summer I joined the reading clubs and was proud to gather the prizes as I reached the highest levels. When I was 16, I started working there as a library page. I did not realize it at the time, but books were my way of traveling before I ever stepped foot outside of my neighborhood.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”
― Mark Twain

bioAlthough I traveled to China and Japan when I was 13, the travel bug didn’t bite me until I was in my 20’s. Infected on a 3-week trip to Europe, I then spent a year teaching in Mexico City. After Mexico I traveled on and off for 3 years. I count my time traveling as one of my degrees. Interacting with people from different cultures gave me a greater understanding of the world and the people in it. It gave me a new lens with which to view the world. And definitely a greater understanding of geography. Traveling has also given me the confidence to be who I am and to try new things.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
― Augustine of Hippo

After traveling for 3 years I settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts to get my Masters in Intercultural Relations at Lesley College. I planned to leave teaching to work in the study abroad field. I believed in the power of travel and I wanted to infect everyone. I only worked in the field for a few months. After graduating and getting a position, I realized that a desk job was not for me. Getting others to travel while sitting behind a computer was simply depressing. However, the knowledge and the people I met in the program were worth the time and money. Learning is not always about a job.

bio4“We never really learn anything, we just become aware of things when the time and potential coincide.”
– Thomas Mann

B.A. in Elementary and Special Education from Ohio University
M.A. in Intercultural Relations from Lesley College
Reading Specialist Certificate from Loyola Marymount University
Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern California
Student of life and the world.

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”
– Unknown

Married and divorced. I don’t have any biological children, though I do have a foster daughter who is an adult and on her own. Considered non-traditional by some, my life is filled with friends and family.

“It’s a tough question. At what point in people’s lives are they open to something new?”
– Daphne

bio5A book that has influenced my life is “Tales of a Female Nomad” by Rita Golden Gelman. I can’t remember when I first read it. I know that it has been at least 15 years since I discovered the book. Since then I’ve given away numerous copies and I recently reread it. It’s the story of a woman in her 40’s who has an elegant life in Los Angeles, yet is unhappy. She gets a divorce, sells all of her possessions and becomes a nomad. She doesn’t just travel; she immerses herself in places. Although I had traveled when I first read the book, my travels were not on her level. I aspired to be more like her. Her story was inspiring to me then, imagine how I felt when I reread it. I’m in my 40’s, live in L.A., and recently divorced. Maybe the world is trying to tell me something.

“If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.”
– John Irving

bio6At this point in my life I am trying new things. I’ve begun some writing projects and I recently founded the non-profit organization Books&Wanderlust. Though the study abroad field did not work out, I’m determined to get some “butts off couches and into the world.” I don’t know where these endeavors will lead, but I’m excited to take the journey. People often ask, “What is your 5 year plan?” My usual response is, “I don’t really know. If in 5 years I have only accomplished what I can think of right now, then I will be sad. My greatest achievements have been those things that I never imagined.”

“Not all those who wander are lost.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

bio8It’s difficult for me to stay still. When I was hired at my current job the President of the college looked at my resume and commented on the fact that I seemed to move around every 3 years. He hired me anyway. I’ve been working at SMC for almost 7 years. It’s the longest that I have stayed in one place since I was a child. I do have the itch, but I love my job and I get a lot of time off that I can use to travel. However, I did recently write this on a napkin when visiting Dubai in April.

“Had a good time watching soccer. I remember when I picked up everything and moved across the country. I want to do it again. Wouldn’t it be great! Drop everything and move to a new country. Why not? I love expat life.”

bio1I’ve had the privilege of traveling to over 50 countries on all 7 continents, but I have a lot of places left to visit. Sometimes I just need to wander. It truly is an addiction for me. I need an international fix at least once a year. There is something intoxicating about being immersed in a foreign country. To have everything you know and believe questioned. To find ways to communicate when you don’t have a common language. To discover new things in foreign lands, and within yourself.

“I read; I wander; I become.”
– Me, Kimberly Raina James, The Green Goddess



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