Who Are Wes and Masami?
 Masami Heiser
Place of birth Tokyo, Japan
Places lived Saitama Japan, Iwate Japan, Hyogo Japan, Tokyo Japan, Shingle Springs California, Sydney Australia, Singapore
Hobbies/Interests Travel, working on homepages, hiking, tennis, beading / jewelry making, reading
Education Sanno Jr College, Tokyo, Japan (1987-1988)
Sierra College, Rocklin, California (1995-1996)
UC Davis, Davis, California; Bachelors in Computer Science with honors (1997-1998)
Work history Kodak Japan, Tokyo; Programmer (1989-1992)
Philip Morris Japan, Tokyo; Systems Analyst (1992-1994)
Sterling Commerce Singapore; Product Support Engineer, software localization (1999-2000)
 Wes Heiser
Place of birth California, USA
Places lived Rochester New York, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, Tokyo Japan, Shingle Springs California, Sydney Australia, Singapore
Hobbies/Interests Soccer, hiking, travel, UNIX, organizing
Education University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Double major Bachelors in Economics and Oriental Studies (1987-1990)
Work history Eastman Kodak Japan, Tokyo, Japan; Market Research Analyst (1991-1994)
Objective Systems Integrators, Folsom, California; Telecommunications Network Management Systems Engineer (1994-1996); Asia Pacific Professional Services Manager (1997-1998); Director of Asia Pacific Professional Services (1999-2000)

 Why travel around the world?
In early 1994, Wes and Masami were working in Tokyo. We had been married less than a year and started thinking about moving to the US. Masami dreamt about getting a Bachelors Degree in the US and Wes was nearing his maximum 5 year stay in Japan before the Japanese government would levy heavy taxes on his world wide assets. We thought a move from Japan to the US would give us the opportunity to explore the world for a year. Finances would be tight, but we had enough saved for travel and school. After months of studying an atlas and deciding to leave work in December 1994, Wes got a phone call from a recruiter in California offering an interesting new career path at Objective Systems Integrators. Wes got the job because of his Japanese language and business culture skills, and Masami wanted to start school, so the world travel idea died...

Wes was inspired to travel the world by his parents. Between 1974 - 1979, Wes' family spent 6 weeks circling the world each year. The family spent 3-10 days in each country before hopping to the next. Wes was old enough to remember clips of each experience (head lice in Turkey, bitten by a monkey in Tanzania, standing on the head of a 175-foot Buddha statue in Afghanistan, getting sick out a bus window in Nepal, father getting stung by a jelly fish on some island somewhere), but not old enough to fully appreciate the experience. Masami traveled to Europe with a friend while in college in Tokyo, and was also interested in seeing more of the world.

In 1999, Wes and Masami were both working in Singapore. Many people like Singapore, but it didn't fit our love of hiking and outdoor activities. The world travel idea returned after a visit by our good friend Hernan from California. He was on sabbatical traveling through Asia, Australia, and Europe. Wes asked Masami, "How about leaving Singapore early and traveling the world for a year?" She agreed. After 9 months of planning, we concluded that 12 months of travel would be insufficient; hopefully 24 months would.

Masami was initially worried about finding work after the long absence. But since we are financially stable and have another 30 work years ahead of us, we put these concerns aside. As travel preparations neared completion, Wes became a stressed insomniac. Worries twitched him awake all night and the days were overloaded with work to be completed. The thought of leaving the work force was contradictory to Wes' efforts of getting a good education so he could advance his career and be viewed as successful from his perspective of how he thought society would view him. The common casual question, "What do you do?" could no longer be answered with reference to a university name, company name, or job title. Very scary indeed. Over the next two years, we will be asking ourselves deeper questions: Who am I? What do I believe? What do I want to do? How can I contribute to society?

We hope you enjoy our discoveries as much as we do.

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