Heather Carreiro exemplifies a new kind of expatriatism based around travel writing, which, at the same time, allows one to continue other pursuits. She notes, “Many times people feel that the only way to be a travel writer is by becoming a global vagabond, leaving behind their career and taking off into a perpetual state of the unknown. I admire this type of travel writer, but I hope that I can serve as another example that you can study, teach, pursue a career, live or work abroad and be a travel writer at the same time.”
Heather graduated from MatadorU in February 2010. Excelling in the program, she quickly became a regular contributor to Matador, and eventually joined the staff as an editorial intern (later taking over as a section editor at Matador Abroad.) One of her first published pieces won the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association’s scholarship, awarded annually to an emerging writer in these genre.
Heather has a diverse background and education, having studied Linguistics & Middle Eastern Studies at UMass-Amherst. Her junior year was spent in Morocco, where she took classes in Islamic theology, Arabic, Berber history and culture and Islamic art & architecture, and “started to see how travel complemented academic pursuits”.
After graduating from UMass, Heather moved to Lahore, Pakistan to work in education development. “I didn’t go with any organization or have any particular job lined up, but I went and stayed with my Urdu tutor’s family and started making connections that way,” she says.
During her three years in Lahore she ran creative writing workshops, developed an ESL curriculum for teachers, offered professional development seminars for teachers, and lectured for an MA TESOL program at a local university. “Although I didn’t have an MA myself,” she notes, my background in linguistics and my experience teaching ESL in the UMass Continuing Education department put me in high demand in Lahore. Because linguistics is a fairly new field of study in Pakistan, I was seen as an expert and was able to have creative freedom in designing college classes and curriculum.”
And yet with all her experience, Heather finds she still felt “starved for direction and feedback when it came to my creative writing. I’d been publishing informative travel articles, doing some website copywriting, and working on teacher training curriculum for a few years, but I didn’t really know how to go about advancing my career as a travel writer. When I heard about the Matador U course, it immediately went on my wish list. I love things that are pragmatic and offer specific steps you can take to move forward. Looking at the Matador U course syllabus, I was impressed that the course not only offered advice on how to improve your writing, but that it also went through practical matters like how to pitch to different publications, how to think like an editor, and how to make travel writing a career.”
As far as her continued professional goals, Heather writes, “While I loved being abroad and working with local NGOs and schools, [my husband] Duarte and I realized that we wanted a bit more structure in our lives. Taking care of our own visas and constantly having our finances in flux was a huge source of stress, and we were ready to take a break from the power cuts and 120-degree heat of the Pakistani Punjab.
“As we both had experience teaching and enjoyed being in the classroom, we decided to pursue careers as international teachers: me in secondary English and him in physics and math. We’re currently in the U.S. for the purpose of getting certified in those subjects and continuing our education so we can be more competitive teaching candidates.
“In the long term, we both have a lot of dreams and we aren’t yet quite sure how they will all mesh together. I plan to write about any place we go, and I also want to get involved with the community, whether it’s through training teachers, starting book clubs, encouraging local musicians and artists, or working with literacy development programs.”
To learn more about heather, please visit her blog ExpatHeather.com.
To learn more about the Matador network travel writing course click here: MatadorU Travel Writing Course