Please introduce yourself; who are you, where are you from, where are you currently, what do you do for a living/currently? Please include kids’ ages on departure day.
Andy Cotter and Irene Genelin grew up in Minnesota. Ani Cotter spent her first four years of life in Minnesota and she has been slow traveling since. Ani will be 9 years old on departure day. Currently, we are in Sofia, Bulgaria until mid-December, then we will work our way back to Minnesota for the Christmas holiday. We plan to spend 2023 in a few places in the US. We call our home base Minnesota, but we have been slow traveling since May 2019. We used to be organic fruit farmers while living in MN, but currently, Irene is the home educator and family chef. Andy works in the IT world, doing computer work (he did so while farming too).
Why did you decide to get involved in this project?
We enjoy traveling with other families. Finding other families to share experiences with while away from our ‘home base is really rewarding. Andy loves to plan and research, so he is excited about helping with his organizing skills before the trip starts.
What kind of interests do you have?
I enjoy cooking and baking with healthy whole foods with a preference for dairy-free recipes. I like to be physically active by walking, hiking, cycling (bicycle and unicycle), yoga, and balancing on things (tight rope, skinny rails at the playground, backs of benches). I enjoy taking photographs, writing about the family’s travels, and sketching and coloring. I have the best role of my life right now in being the primary home educator for our daughter, Ani. I speak French and some Spanish. Currently, I am working on improving my Spanish.
Andy: (written by Irene)
He enjoys learning new languages. Currently, he is working on Bulgarian and German. He is excellent at reading maps, and train, tram, bus, and flight schedules. He likes to be outside and active, making a point of doing physical activities outside every day. When he has his bicycle he loves riding long distances. He is really fast in tag and will play often with Ani and I and whomever else we meet at the local playground that is keen to play. He is very good with computer data, and making spreadsheets that support the well-being of our family (for example our financial budget, and trip location/duration). Currently, he supports our family by working remotely for a US company using his Computer Science and Engineering degree.
Ani: (written by Irene)
She is eight years old and loves being artistic. Sketching, painting, crafting, and creating are something she does every day. She is learning how to do video editing and enjoys creating Minecraft worlds and playing with others in this video game. She learned to unicycle in July 2022 and has been riding around the streets on it ever since. She enjoys circus arts (trapeze, silks, unicycling), playgrounds, tag, and hide and seek. She is a creative cook crafting cake recipes in the kitchen on a regular basis.
Tell us some interesting random facts about you guys. Don’t hold back, this is your time to shine 🙂
Andy and I met through unicycling. He proposed to me while we were on a group Mountain Unicycle Ride in Moab, Utah with a unicycle-shaped wedding ring. The diamond is the wheel.
We love to travel. Unicycling has taken us all over the world for competitions and tours. We took a 10-year break from travel to focus on our organic fruit farm in Minnesota. We were fortunate to attain several awards on the farm for our work in environmental sustainability and were certified organic through the USDA for three years.
How do you educate your child?
We have a base curriculum (Right StartMath and Logic of English for reading and writing), and the rest is unschooling.
What do you think will be the most difficult about this experiment?
The first week or two, figuring out the ‘systems’. For example, where to get groceries, where to take out garbage, and what our daily routine will look like. Figuring out the right balance of social and alone recharge time. Right now when Ani is around kids it can be hard to disengage as she enjoys playing so much.
What kind of work groups or projects would you be excited about joining on the trip?
If there is a way of getting involved with the local communities to help – by picking up trash or volunteering at an animal shelter, I (Irene) would be all for it.
I would enjoy doing art with other children – painting, sketching, drawing, and crafting.
What do you hope to learn or take away from joining this experiment?
We as a family are hoping to make new connections as well as see a different part of the world. We are also learning more about living in a community with all the positives and challenges that are part of this type of trip.