UNC Around the World
Entrepreneurs, social workers, teachers, actors and volunteers are among the 800-plus UNC alumni living and working abroad. Ten graduates share their stories following their life-changing decisions to take their talents to countries spanning the globe.
Family Gains Global Perspective in Relocating
Earthquakes are as common as Colorado snowstorms, and the occasional typhoon makes her feel as if she’s living in a car wash. But Dorie Andrade refuses to live in fear.
She has no regrets about uprooting her life and moving her husband and three kids to Okinawa, Japan. She now works as the special education coordinator for the Okinawa School District.
Seven years ago, she’d been to Texas, Arizona, Wyoming and spent most of her life in Colorado. That was it. Then she looked online and then informed her family that she wanted to move to Japan.
“If I was going to do it, I wanted to go big,” Andrade says.
Everyone, even her three kids, thought it was a cool idea. But then she got the job offer and reality hit. She had two weeks to get to Japan. Her three kids, an eighth-grader, a third-grader and a 16-year-old, who had just gotten her first car, had second thoughts.
“They didn’t want to go at all,” Andrade says.
But after adjusting, the experience changed their view of the world, she says, and she points to one example of many: Her oldest went to college in Vermont and now is in international relations. She’s already spent some time in South America and wants a career in politics that will keep her traveling around the world.
“She had no interest in that until she actually saw another part of the world,” she says.
Her husband, Ron, adjusted after tying up his job with a concrete contracting company. He now has a landscaping business for a naval facility.
“We’re loving it,” Andrade says. “We spend our weekends out on the ocean kayaking instead of working like we had to in the States all the time.”
Okinawa seems like paradise, with its buffet of beaches, but dangers come with that. Earthquakes wake them up, but so far, the temblors have just rattled their home a bit. When the 8.9 quake hit, she was worried about the tsunamis that cut huge swaths through Japan in other places. Residents were being moved to higher ground after she came home from work. But her home was more than 200 miles south of the quake’s epicenter, and the waves went around them.
“The West Coast of the United States got more than we did,” she says.
The homes are built for massive storms and other events. The only damage from a three-day typhoon that hammered their home was a fallen palm tree. She feels confident that now she can take anything.
“I’d actually rather be here if something like that happens because we’re built to withstand it,” she says. NV
—Dan England is a Greeley journalist.