Teaching Traveling: Are you seeking inspiring, empowering children’s books? Look no further than Queen Girls, the stories of real-life inspiring women, turned into fairy tales by a traveling teacher named Andrea! Andrea, tell us about your background.
Andrea: My name is Andrea Doshi, and I am a 29-year-old dream-catcher from Chicago, Illinois. I have a Master’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology, and I started my career working for Chicago Public Schools. As a person with numerous passions, my life is constantly changing. I am an advocate for children with special needs, a wanderer, a photographer, a cyclist, and an entrepreneur, and I am doing my best to incorporate all those into my life. Traveling has always been a large part of who I am, and I have spent the past couple years exploring Nepal, India, Tanzania, Brazil, Ecuador, Japan, Thailand, Myanmar, and the list goes on…
TT: Now you are starting a series of inspiring children’s books called Queen Girls. Tell us more about these books.
A: I am so happy you asked! Queen Girls is a collection of children’s books for elementary school aged children. We are taking inspirational women from the past and turning their stories into fairy tales. As an alternative to traditional princess books, the stories are based on real women to give girls a positive view of life and help them envision their dreams as possible.
Often times, classic stories highlight the strength, courage and skills of men. Female characters are often stereotyped or one-dimensional: the mother figure, the homemaker, the exotic beauty, or the love seeker. We believe that we should be telling different stories to our children. Let’s encourage girls to find their happiness, passions, drive and self-confidence from within. At the same time, let’s help boys to move to a place of equality.
TT: I love this book series idea! Who is your first fairy tale about?
A: Our first fairy tale, “Bessie, Queen of the Sky!” is about Bessie Coleman, the first black women in the world to receive her pilot’s license. A girl ahead of her time, no one could have ever imagined Bessie would get out of the cotton fields and become a pilot, but with the help of her best friend, Bloony, Bessie uses her courage and determination to make her dream come true.
The book is being published in English and Spanish. My sister-in-law and partner in crime in this adventure, Jimena is an Argentinian native and grew up in Spain, so the Spanish language and culture are near and dear to her heart.
TT: Absolutely wonderful. Tell us more about your mission. And will there be more books?
A: Our mission is to give girls a positive view of life, and to encourage all children to spread their wings and fly. One of the best parts of our collection is that for every book you buy, another book is being donated to a child that may be struggling to dream! We are partnering with charities to incorporate a one for one model in order to reach as many kids as we can. And yes, we cannot wait to start writing more books. We even have the next couple brave women picked out!
TT: That sounds phenomenal. How can we purchase the books?
A: You can purchase the books directly from our Queen Girls website! Our initial book publication is funded by our Kickstarter campaign, and we’d love the participation of anyone out there who thinks these books can make a positive impact on the world.
TT: Yay! Do you have experience in writing or self- publishing?
A: Neither of us have experience in self-publishing, but hey, it’s a great opportunity to learn! We’ve had a fun year of challenging ourselves to learn the process, from researching, testing, and creating our content. We have also reached out to fellow self-publishers, authors, and entrepreneurs who have been very beneficial. Everyone is so excited and willing to share their stories with us. Helping one another out: it is what makes the world go round!
TT: Absolutely. Can you elaborate on how traveling inspired you to start your own company with your sister?
A: One of my favorite quotes by the Dalai Lama states, “If you think you can’t make a difference, try sleeping in a room with a mosquito.” I’ve danced on the beaches of Mandvi with Indian children. I’ve sang my ABC’s on the shores of Zanzibar. I’ve colored with Nepali girls in a local square. I’ve been given water by Albanian children in the middle of the mountains. I’ve slept with families in Burmese villages. I’ve worked with low-income families in Chicago. All those children — they are the ones who have inspired me. Now I want to inspire them: children from all around the world. I want them to grow up truly believing that they can do or become whatever they wish. I want children to know what it means to have a dream. My sister and I couldn’t think of any better way to do this other than creating positive content for children with the added one for one model, again to reach as many children as possible.
TT: So true. Tell us more about your travels.
A: I could write a novel here, so I am going to pick one very special experience thus far. During the summer of 2015, I, along with my brother and two British friends, embarked on a cycling journey from Istanbul to London. Our group had met in Nepal the winter before, and the 2015 Nepali earthquake had recently occurred, a country that was very near and dear to all of our hearts. We decided to spend the summer cycling 3,000 miles across Europe to raise funds for the victims of the earthquake. It was the most incredible experience of my life. See one video from our journey here.
TT: Wow! How did you find your travel opportunities? How are you able to fund your trips?
A: Most of my travel opportunities occur after I have already arrived at my destination. You never know who you are going to meet or where you are going to end up. For me, that is one of the best parts of the journey. There are Facebook groups I am a part of and once you start traveling, you begin to develop a community of friends from around the world that are always willing to share opportunities, as well. As far as money goes, I would never let money hinder me from traveling. You can always find a job on the road, utilize popular travel websites like Couchsurfing and WarmShowers.com, and live a bit rustically! It is all part of the experience!
TT: Brilliant. How have your travels impacted you in your career, and how have your travels impacted you as a person?
A: Traveling has taught me everything, I honestly don’t know the person I was before I started traveling. First and foremost, it has taught me to follow my heart, which is exactly what we are trying to teach through Queen Girls. It has given me the strength and courage to pursue the things that make my heart sing, sparking my creative side and challenging me to be me. Traveling has taught me that majority of people in this world are kind and with every experience, there is something to learn.
TT: What advice do you have for teachers who are dreaming of travel, or travelers dreaming of teaching?
A: All I can say is follow your heart. Your heart knows what is best for you. So many people dream of traveling, teaching, and doing what makes them happy, but never take the leap of faith and run with it. Fear holds them back. If you can get past that fear, I can assure you that no matter where you go, if your heart is urging you, good things will come. After all, “what is life, but one grand adventure?”