Changing Lives Abroad: 9 Questions for a South Alabama Educator in Saudi Arabia

For over a decade, Katina Walton taught students of all ages throughout Alabama. She made sure they excelled inside their classrooms. However, she also encouraged them to venture outside and experience the world as well as all of the unforgettable lessons it has to offer. Well, three years ago, the 44-year-old Prichard, Alabama native and mother of one took her own advice. Although she continues to shape young lives, she now does it more than 7500 miles away in Riyadh, Saudi, Arabia, donning an abaya while working as the Academic Vice Principal of Kindergarten at Kingdom International Schools.
She spoke with me, via email, about her new life overseas, which she began in October 2014.

Basking in the Beauty of Bahia: Salvador, Brazil (March 2017)

Long before I ever smelled the combined scents of livestock, seafood, and fresh produce wafting though the Sao Joaquim market…tasted (and later “feened") moqueca and acerola juice…saw a cross being passed through the congregation of Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretor and watched people passionately run up just to touch a piece of it…or heard a man yell to me- in broken English - “I want to kiss your mouth”…
I felt Salvador.

Rediscovering Havana: Old City, New Friends (September 2016)

As a television journalist, I get into folks’ business every day. Without shame. So, needless to say, I do the same thing when I’m abroad. That’s because one of the best things about traveling to new places is meeting new people and listening to their stories. 
And I came across some amazingly cool characters during my recent trip to Havana.

Rediscovering Havana: Lessons Learned (September 2016)

During my travels over the years, I’ve learned quite a few interesting tidbits at every stop.
For example, in Lima, Peru, “workin’ dat *ss” is a work of art. Rae Town in Kingston is not the safest neighborhood for tourists, but it has one of the best “old time music” street parties around. Plus, you’ll meet cool people like Kemar. And playing the djembe drum, especially sitting next to Cape Town’s master drummer, Xolani, is not as easy as it looks.

Rediscovering Havana: Second Time Around (September 2016)

17 years.
That’s how long it has been since I first laid eyes on Havana. Back then, I was a fresh-faced college senior, spending June and part of July studying Spanish and Latin American history at the University of Havana. At the time, the country was nearing the end of its so-called "special period."

South Africa 2016: Gangsta Game (And Other Unbothered Animals Who Just Don’t Give A…)

When it comes to wildlife, South Africa deserves a round of applause. In fact, give it up for the entire African continent because it seems that in every nook and cranny, you’ll find unique, colorful creatures, big and small, freely living life like its golden.

However, for some of them, “golden” means “gangsta.”


Trill, if you will.
During a recent trip to parts of Cape Town and the Limpopo province, I observed some seemingly cool characters, who in reality, are proudly living out their days on Earth as straight thugs. Their goal is to make it as easy for themselves as possible in this struggle we all call “life.” And if that includes stealing, keeping up unnecessary noise, begging, and other forms of  disrespect for their fellow kingdom cronies, or better yet, humans, then so be it.
Here are the top five who, for me, put the “wild” in wildlife.

South Africa 2016: Stepping Outside of My Inside Comfort Zone

If you know me, you know I am not an outdoorsy person.

I'm what the kids like to call "bougie." I refuse to walk outside with bare feet to be “one with nature.” I don’t camp or fish. I roll my eyes at the word "hike." And don't tell me I'm sweating. I glisten.