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Ishmael Inspires Former Businesswoman to Enter Teaching

How many times have you had someone say to you: "Read this book, it will change your life"!? While millions of us have read hundreds of supposedly "life-changing" books, most of us are never inspired enough to actually change our lives. But there are exceptions. Former businesswoman Valerie Sarver, aged 31, is one of many people who is living proof that "Ishmael", by Daniel Quinn actually can inspire people to change their lives.

Ms. Sarver followed the "American dream" from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and finally to New York, where she managed a Radio Advertising Sales Office for a large corporation. She had always dreamed of "getting to the top" in New York, and when she got there, she looked around and realized she didn't like what she saw.

After quitting her successful sales career, she started to do some soul-searching, and realized she really wanted to be a teacher. However, she felt she could not become a teacher because they were paid too poorly. In the meantime, Valerie had saved enough money to be able to afford to take some time off to figure out what she wanted to do next.

She and her ex-husband gave their relationship a second chance, and after one year happily back together, they decided to embark upon a trip around the world. Aside from just having fun and exposing themselves to different cultures, the purpose of their trip was to educate themselves and other people about environmental issues around the world. They reported on their travels through their Eco-Odyssey website.

While in Bali, Indonesia, Valerie came across the book "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn, and subsequently finished reading it in just a few days. She could not put the book down, and by the time she finished, she said, "I know what I have to do". Valerie says she wants to spread the word to read Ishmael to as many people as possible. "Reading Ishmael where and when I did was a real eye-opener to our population problem on this planet," said Valerie. "Here we were in some of the most beautiful, most impoverished, most over-populated areas of the world, and I find this book. I feel it is not only an answer to all my questions about why our planet is in its current predicament, but it also helped me come to realize that I am committed to becoming a teacher. I am no longer attached to making a big paycheck, now I am attached to our future. I have renewed hope for my ability to influence the direction of our generation, and future generations' relationships with our planet".

Although she had always wanted to teach, she never thought she would pursue it because the compensation was just too low. After reading Ishmael, she felt the single best way for her to influence our future generations was through teaching. Valerie and her partner, Drew, returned to the States, where they are now residing at the Biosphere 2 Center for one year.

Valerie wasn't the only person moved to make a lifestyle change after reading Ishmael. Indeed, the reason that Valerie and Drew are at the Biosphere 2 Center this year is because Drew is pursuing his Masters in Public Administration in Earth Systems Science, Policy and Management. Columbia University manages the Biosphere and uses it as a second campus. This is the first time they are offering this degree, which aims to bridge the gap between policy makers and environmental scientists. Ultimately, Drew will be making environmental policy decisions in whatever career he chooses to pursue after graduation.

Meanwhile, Valerie found an ideal way to pursue teaching. The Biosphere 2 Center offers a curriculum in environmental science to K-12 children who visit the Biosphere with their schools. The Biosphere's three main priorities are: Education (offering high school, undergraduate, and now graduate programs), Research (their research primarily focuses on climate change), and Public Outreach (K-12 education and tours for the general public).

Valerie has also started a Tucson Ishmael community, whose plans are to implement "Leaver" lifestyle characteristics into their local communities. If you want to reach Valerie, please contact her via email.

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