Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The story behind a travel writer July 22, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:57 AM
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Several months ago I told my daughter I would plug her writing. So I am, in this post. But I’ll also tell you about her as a person, because the person you are shapes the writer you become.

Miranda at the Las Ruinas de Quilmes (Quilmes Ruins) in the Tucuman province of northwestern Argentina.

MY DAUGHTER MIRANDA could work as a full-time professional travel writer. She’s that good. And I’m not just saying this because I’m her mom. You can decide for yourself by clicking here, to examiner.com St. Paul.

Miranda has written some two dozen articles about Argentina, where she traveled twice to study, do mission work and intern. Today she’s back in the U.S., working as a Spanish medical interpreter in eastern Wisconsin.

If she had her druthers—meaning no need for a steady job to repay college loans—Miranda likely would be living in Buenos Aires right now. She loves the city, Argentine culture and food, and Argentineans that much. That shows in her writing.

Yet, even though my daughter isn’t living in the place where she’d probably prefer to be, she’s at least working in a profession that allows her to follow her passion—Spanish. There’s much to be said for that. All too many people go through life working jobs they dislike simply to pay the bills. That is an unfortunate reality.

I understand her love of language. I graduated from high school with a plan to pursue a German degree in college. But I quickly realized that, because I didn’t want to teach, the idea wouldn’t fly. So I followed my other passion—writing. I majored in journalism and minored in English.

I sometimes wonder how things might have been different for me if I had gotten that German degree and had been willing to leave Minnesota. Unlike my fearless daughter, I prefer not to travel. I purposely raised her, though, to love adventure.

From little on, Miranda has been her own person. She ran, not walked, everywhere as a preschooler. One winter, when she was about four, she insisted on wearing a skirt every day. Often she would close herself in the cramped toy room, now my office, and play for hours by herself. She would tell me to “go away.” She was a strong-willed child, still is as an adult, and that serves her well.

For a long stretch, she was fixated on horses. She drew horses, played with toy horses and checked out every horse book she could in the regional library system. She thrilled in riding roller coasters.

When Miranda was diagnosed with scoliosis and had to wear a full torso back brace 24/7 for a year (or maybe two, I’ve forgotten exactly how long) during high school, she drew on her inner strength and determination. She seldom complained, although this couldn’t have been easy.

She is brave and independent and strong. The last time Miranda boarded a plane for Argentina, she didn’t even have a place to permanently stay for the duration of her internship. And when she was mugged in northern Argentina, she handled the situation with maturity and composure that exuded confidence. I was the one back home struggling with the attack.

I tell you all of this because I am proud of my kind, caring, compassionate daughter. As an interpreter, she works in a profession that allows her to directly help others.

As a sometime-travel writer, Miranda continues with an interest that began in high school and continued through her studies at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. Communications Studies compliments her other minor, International Studies, and her major, Spanish.

Already in her Wisconsin home of eight months, my daughter has found a church and embraced a wide circle of friends. Two Hispanic families in her apartment building have “adopted” her, inviting her to family celebrations and dinner and now, she says, Christmas. (Just to clarify, if she’s not on call, I expect her back in Minnesota for that holiday.)

She’s got a good life in Wisconsin. And even though I wish she lived closer than 5 ½ hours away, at least she is not 6,000 miles away in Argentina. For now Miranda seems content to simply write about her previous life in South America, when she’s not too busy with her new life back in the Midwest.

Miranda celebrates the Argentine World Cup soccer victory at Plaza de la Republica in Buenos Aires. The balloon is soccer legend Diego Maradona, at that time the coach of Argentina's national team.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Photo courtesy of Miranda Helbling