There are a couple of things that brought me to my love of geography, history, the various cultures of the world, and the differences between how people grew up. The gameshow of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? is the first of those two things.

Given the premiere date, I think I must have accidentally started catching the show right in the beginning of season 1; I remember watching it when I went to the neighbor next door to my grandparents’ house, and that would have been late 1991. It didn’t take long before my father got me a (pirated) version of the PC game. I was given a legit version of the deluxe game a year or so later.

It was the only thing that made me wish I was still living in New York City (where it was filmed), as it seems young-kid-aetherspoon was extremely good at understanding things like geography. Turns out, young-kid-aetherspoon (along with young-adult aetherspoon and current-day-aetherspoon, for that matter) hyper-focused in geography and history, with this being the first real exposure I had to the former. I loved it SO MUCH and always wished I had been on that show.

After watching the video, all of those memories came flooding back. I even started singing along with the songs that I had long since forgotten! I’m glad to see that there was no behind-the-scenes drama going on, or reasons why my favs were troubling, or anything other than “they messed up once and let the kid back on the next season”.

The second one of those things that brought me to my love of geography, for reference, was December of 1991 when my class put on a school pageant demonstrating the various winter holidays and traditions all throughout the world. We each were given countries of our respective ancestries – being of Irish and Native American* ancestry, I was to cover Ireland and the British Isles. Most of my classmates ended up covering locales in Central and South America, with some covering various other regions in the world that needed additional coverage by my primarily-latinx-or-black class. In addition, I gave the opening lines of Christmas and other Winter Holiday traditions in the pageant, being given a little booklet to say my lines out of instead of memorizing. Turns out, I memorized them anyway based on physical placement (young-adult-aetherspoon used this in theater later), so I memorized a few pages of lines and information and continued on.

My teacher, however, was worried for one student (I want to say her name was Janna?) who had come into class a bit late. She was born in Finland and didn’t know anyone in the class, so my teacher asked me if I was willing to do another country as well, joining Janna on stage during that section. I knew where Finland was on a map (because of watching Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, of course), along with the other countries of Scandinavia, so we covered all of them. I went down to the library to do research (which I’m pretty sure was useless, but the thought counts) on things, and performed in that pageant. 

Holding a candle, experiencing my first bit of pyrophobia in my life, but I performed!

Anyway, I thought I’d throw in a happy memory today for you all, from eight year old me. Yay.

* DNA testing later on says this is false, but this was the family belief at the time.

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