December 16, 2003 - The Sheboygan Press: Jeff and Laura Girdner met in Micronesia, a group of islands near the Philippines in the West Pacific with a population of 108,000, where their daughter Genevieve was born

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Micronesia: Peace Corps Micronesia : The Peace Corps in Micronesia: December 16, 2003 - The Sheboygan Press: Jeff and Laura Girdner met in Micronesia, a group of islands near the Philippines in the West Pacific with a population of 108,000, where their daughter Genevieve was born

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-189-98.balt.east.verizon.net - 151.196.189.98) on Tuesday, December 16, 2003 - 10:57 am: Edit Post

Jeff and Laura Girdner met in Micronesia, a group of islands near the Philippines in the West Pacific with a population of 108,000, where their daughter Genevieve was born



Jeff and Laura Girdner met in Micronesia, a group of islands near the Philippines in the West Pacific with a population of 108,000, where their daughter Genevieve was born

A different version of paradise
North senior Girdner spent much of her life in Hawaii, but has adapted nicely to Sheboygan

By Dave Lubach
Sheboygan Press staff

Caption: Genevieve Girdner misses swimming in the ocean, and her favorite beach, where the sky and clear, blue water seem to stretch forever.

She misses the food of her native Hawaii, like the taste of a smoked Kalua pig, a treat tourists from the mainland rave about during a luau, but in island life is as traditional as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

“Everything (in Hawaii) is served with white rice,” she said. “Here, it’s all meat and potatoes.”

And then, of course, there’s Hawaii’s climate, where temperatures are so constant the weather portion of the local news could be a scene from the movie “Groundhog Day:” never much higher than 90, rarely below 70.

They all combine to help make Hawaii the tropical paradise people think it is.

Yet a little over two years ago, Genevieve Girdner’s family said “Aloha” to all that and moved to Sheboygan.

And while a typical December day here may make her reconsider that plan occasionally, she would do it all over again.

“There are just more opportunities here,” said Girdner, a Sheboygan North senior who has led the Golden Raiders girls basketball team to a 6-0 start heading into tonight’s Fox River Valley Conference home game against Manitowoc.

“For the schooling I want and the future I want to pursue, there is more variety.”

Many kids in Hawaii face similar decisions. Children in families that are strong in the Polynesian culture of the islands usually stay and rarely leave.

Many others choose to head for school and work on the mainland, only to return for family reunions and vacations.

“Hilo is real nice, an old agriculture city, and real laid back,” said Jeff Girdner, Genevieve’s father. “But it’s an expensive place to live.

“People don’t realize that on the Big Island, with the demise of agriculture, all that’s there is tourism. With the Japanese economy in the dumpster, and tourism hurting, the economy there is pretty bad.”

With two children, the Girdners chose to head for the mainland, or rather Main Street, USA, to pursue those opportunities.



Genevieve’s parents, Jeff and Laura, met in Micronesia, a group of islands near the Philippines in the West Pacific with a population of 108,000, where Genevieve was born and Jeff worked in the Peace Corps after college.

When Genevieve was 5 the family moved from Micronesia to Hawaii, where they lived until her sophomore year of high school.

Genevieve and her brother, Zach, a 6-5, 15-year-old freshman at North, were extremely talented athletes.

Genevieve started for her varsity team as a freshman in Hawaii, where a road trip for tournament games sometimes involved plane rides hopping the islands.

“Everyone (in Hawaii) has been on a plane before,” Genevieve said. “Here many people haven’t because they drive everywhere.”

Genevieve and Zach had improved to the point where college scholarships were possible, but unlikely to be obtained if the family remained in Hawaii because of a lack of exposure.

So the summer before Genevieve’s junior season, the family left Hawaii and headed for the Midwest.

Jeff, a Certified Public Accountant, chose a job with Clifton Gunderson LLP in Plymouth over one in Omaha, Neb.

“Am I glad they chose here,” said North’s first-year coach, Susie Runaas.

Genevieve also runs cross country and plays soccer at North. But it’s her basketball skills that have her on the verge of obtaining a college scholarship.

As a 5-9 senior, Genevieve is averaging 17.1 points and 8 rebounds for North, which is off to one of the best starts in school history.

“She came on strong the last half of last year, and during the summer really came on,” said Runaas.

Among the schools currently courting Girdner are the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, UW-Milwaukee and the University of Texas-El Paso.

While playing basketball is important, her post-high school education has to include her planned profession: physical therapy.

“I’ve job-shadowed here at North, and I love it,” she said.

All of these are opportunities that would have been hard to come by had she stayed on the Big Island.

The last two years haven’t been all roses though. Laura has visited Sheboygan, but has stayed in Hawaii for extended periods to take care of their home.

But Laura is returning to Sheboygan this week, and will be back in time to see North’s biggest game in years, Friday at home against Green Bay Notre Dame.

“I’m really proud the kids were able to adapt and excel under extremely stressful circumstances,” Jeff said. “I’m proud of the way she’s adjusted. She’s done a great job.”

Reach Dave Lubach at dlubach@sheboygan.gannett.com




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Story Source: The Sheboygan Press

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Micronesia

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