Alive & Unedited: Stephanie Calondis Geiger
A quaint, tree-lined block of Jefferson Avenue, just north of Broad Street, holds an entire community of people doing good things through a nonprofit called the Columbus Council on World Affairs. One is Stephanie Calondis Geiger, who works to widen the horizons of local students.
Columbus kind of snuck up on me. My husband and I were living in Costa Rica through an alternative to the Peace Corps called WorldTeach. Our year of service was up, and it was time to figure out what we were going to do next. We wanted to be close to family.
My husband and I were high-school sweethearts. I think it makes you sound weird, like, "You found somebody and you gave up right away?" But we went to different colleges. We both traveled separately. We had experiences on our own, then had experiences together. We just fell in love.
Our time in Costa Rica was life-changing. I lived with a host family. They owned a fish shop, and I lived in a room above the market. It was very rural. I had never studied Spanish prior to that, and I was the only English-speaker. I taught first through sixth grades.
I'm now obsessed with advocating Columbus to everyone. I love the feel of the neighborhoods and the proximity to farms while still having a great city feel. The entrepreneurial spirit is really great. I think there are a lot of creative, resourceful people here.
If you think Columbus is lame, then you're just being lazy.
I always knew I wanted to work in nonprofits. I just think your job should be about something. You need to make a living, but I knew I wanted a job that had something at stake besides a bottom line.
At the council, I'm an outreach educator. Generally what I do is set up projects with students and regular classroom teachers that kind of infuse a little bit of global context into whatever they're doing. For instance, if they're doing a science thing, I'll link it to global warming.
One goal is for students to see the link between the global and the local - how their everyday actions have an impact, positive and negative. You have to find the fine line between advising and stepping back.
Something I admire is when people are humble - when they do a good job, even if nobody's looking. I like when people are gentle, because I'm high-energy and just let things come spitting out of my mouth.
In spare time, I read, cook, garden, do crossword puzzles. I love to listen to This American Life on the radio.
The coolest thing I own is a handmade rug that I bought in Turkey. It's got an ancient traditional pattern. It's got shades of orange and blue. It's probably the size of a picnic table. I was there in 2007 for 18 days through work.
Three things I can't live without are books, water and breakfast.
Know someone doing cool things around Columbus? E-mail John Ross at email@example.com.
Day job: Director of youth programs, Columbus Council on World Affairs
Neighborhood: Victorian Village
Alma mater: Ohio Wesleyan University
Hometown: Mount Vernon
Favorite movie: American Beauty
Favorite TV show: Lost
Favorite author: John Steinbeck
Favorite musical artist: Daisy May Erlewine (now), Paul Simon (all-time)
Favorite color: All varieties of orange
Favorite food: Whatever's in season
Favorite drink: The Geigondis. It's pepper vodka and ginger ale. I invented it