Sheena Geiger loves to travel. So far she's visited more than 25 countries across North America and Europe. Just this past week she traveled to a new destination when she flew to Japan to participate at an event celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Osaka World Expo.
Geiger, a French teacher at Davidson Day, said she was full of anticipation before embarking on her trip.
"There's something about learning new languages and cultures and eating new food that I love," she explained.
Geiger is one of 11 performers from across the world who were recruited by World Campus International, a Tokyo-based organization that encourages cultural exchanges in Japan, to participate at the event.
In addition to singing and dancing at the event's closing ceremonies yesterday, Geiger was also responsible for a booth representing the United States and her native country, Canada.
"We'll just talk about the culture, the language and traditional songs and dances and that kind of stuff," she said before traveling to Japan.
Her name was passed along to World Campus International after she helped design and choreograph a show this past summer in Denver, Colo. for "Up with People," a multicultural leadership program in which participants volunteer during the day and put on a professional musical at night while traveling the world.
"They realized that I could pick up a show in a short period of time - I picked it up in a week last summer," she said about why she thinks she was chosen to represent North America in Japan.
Geiger only found out that she was going to Japan a month ago. She said she was thankful for everybody who donated money and sponsored her on her way to raising most of the $2,500 she needed for traveling expenses.
She said she raised money mostly through word of mouth and by sending letters to local companies as well as posting an announcement in Davidson Day's newsletter.
Geiger has been working at the private school for the past three years.
"I get to teach a little bit of what I love," she said of her role teaching French to middle and high school students.
Geiger, who has degrees in French and education as well as a minor in marine biology from St. Francis Xavier University, said her favorite part about teaching is the students.
"The look in their eyes when they get something is priceless," she said. "When they get to use the words they've learned and make full sentences you just can't beat it."
Geiger had several interesting jobs before ending up in Davidson. She worked at a French day care in Iqaluit, Canada's northernmost territory, where she had to make sure the children wouldn't go outside not only because of the frigid cold but also because of polar bears.
She also worked with dolphins in the Bahamas as part of an internship and worked at Sea World Orlando as an educator. In Florida she met her future husband, who she eventually followed to the area.
But as much as Geiger enjoys Davidson's small-town feel, she admits that she misses Canada. That's how she ended up being a Checkmate - a member of the Charlotte Checkers' dance team.
"I was kind of feeling homesick so I went to a hockey game," she recalled. "I tried out and made it."
Geiger said that being on the dance team isn't too much of a commitment - practice a few nights a week plus games - and that even if it was she would make time for it.
"If you want to do things you have to figure out a way," she said.
Geiger, who figure skated for 17 years, said that being on the ice with the Checkers makes her feel closer to her home.
"I get to do French here (at school), I get to do hockey there and dance and sing the Canadian anthem at the games so it's like I brought home with me," she said.
Geiger was introduced to dancing between the ages of 1 and 2 when her aunts taught her to step dance. Geiger grew up as a traditional Scottish dancer, performing traditional Gaelic and Highland dances at events across her native Nova Scotia.
Geiger grew up watching members of her family play the fiddle and bagpipes in addition to singing, something she picked up along the way.
She said staying close to her roots is important.
"Home and family life and friends - just doing what you love - that's the most important thing," said Geiger.