Meet Matador Intern, Heather Carreiro

by Julie Schwietert Mar 30, 2010

Matador intern, Heather Carreiro

The latest MatadorU grad to join the team is Heather Carreiro.

If you’ve read Heather Carreiro’s articles on Matador, you probably have a good idea why we invited her to join our team as an editorial intern. Heather’s writing is vivid and authentic, conveys a strong sense of place, and relies wholly on original images.

Given her experience as an expat in Pakistan, we thought Heather would be an ideal person to assist editor Sarah Menkedick with MatadorAbroad, our blog about studying and living abroad.

Heather and I exchanged a round of emails so the Matador community could learn more about her.

Where were you born and where are you living now?

I grew up in western Massachusetts and recently moved to Fall River in southeast Massachusetts. Although it’s the same state, it feels like I’m living in a completely different culture as a large part of the population is Portuguese.

My husband Duarte and I live in an apartment in his parent’s house, and I’m the only one whose native language is English. Meals at our house include dishes like octopus, salt cod, tripe, kale soup, linguica and blood sausage.

Tell us a bit about your academic and professional background.

As an undergrad I studied Linguistics & Middle Eastern Studies at UMass-Amherst. My junior year was spent in Morocco, where I took classes in Islamic theology, Arabic, Berber history and culture and Islamic art & architecture. I started to see how travel complemented academic pursuits.

Follow Heather on Twitter and be sure to check out her blog.

In one class we were learning about Moroccan policy in the Western Sahara, so during Eid break some other students and I headed south to Laayoune to see what the situation was on the ground. On another occasion, a friend and I hiked through the High Atlas mountains to see the historic Tin Mal mosque, a place even our Islamic art professor hadn’t been.

I quickly became hooked to travel that was not just for the sake of travel, but also for experiencing different cultures and gaining local perspective.

After graduating from UMass, I 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.

During my three years in Lahore I 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, 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 a bit about your professional goals.

While I loved being abroad and working with local NGOs and schools, 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.

How did you find Matador?

While I was living in Pakistan I started thinking about ways to be location independent so that I could live anywhere in the world and still have opportunities to write. I ended up following the Residuals and Royalties blog, and one of the writing opportunities mentioned was Matador’s Bounty Board.

What motivated you to enroll in MatadorU?

Although I’m a grad student in English, I felt starved for direction and feedback when it came to my creative writing. I’d been publishing informative travel articles, doing some 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.

What are some of your upcoming travel plans?


This summer Duarte and I are planning on WWOOFing in Maine or Vermont for two weeks, taking a one-month spiritual retreat at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, and doing some camping along the east coast. I also work as a certified horseback riding instructor, so I’ll be spending a few days in New Hampshire helping out with a camp riding program on Lake Winnipesaukee.

We’re plotting to go back to the Azores, where Duarte was born, and explore some of the islands we didn’t hit during our first trip to the archipelago.

What do you hope to learn/do/contribute as an editorial intern at Abroad?

I’m excited to work with Sarah as I’ve been inspired by her writing and how she so seamlessly interweaves travel narrative with thought provoking questions and cultural observation. As a teacher, I believe the best way to learn is by doing, so I look forward to learning about what goes on behind the scenes at a travel magazine.

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.

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