An Alaska family's year in India

About Me

I’m Kate Ripley, a lifelong Alaskan living in India for the 2012-2013 academic year. Kate-Tajstarlet661

I’m currently on unpaid leave from my job as public affairs director at the University of Alaska System to accompany my husband, University of Alaska Fairbanks Journalism Professor Brian O’Donoghue, during his Fulbright sabbatical year. Brian is teaching graduate journalism students at Symbiosis University’s Institute for Media and Communications. Brian’s also researching the fast-changing Indian media scene, where old-fashioned print newspapers still thrive and the digital revolution has yet to collapse advertising as we’ve seen in the West.

We’re living in Pune, a city of 5-6 million known as the “Oxford of the East,” with our three children–Rory, 16; Robin, 14; and Rachel, 8. All three children attend Symbiosis International School in Pune.

I was born and raised in Alaska’s capital city, Juneau, to Rudy and Judy (Niemi) Ripley, and am an eighth- generation Alaskan on my maternal grandmother’s side (Fleek). I attended undergraduate school at The University of Montana in Missoula, where I earned a bachelor of arts degree in journalism. I was business reporter at the Juneau Empire for 2-1/2 years before moving to Fairbanks in 1992 to take a job as business editor at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. I worked at the paper for nearly eight years, covering everything from ice road trucking to state politics.

I then spent five years being a stay-at-home mom to our young sons, building a cabin in the woods with my husband and running our dog team before accepting a job as public affairs director for the University of Alaska System in 2004 shortly after our third child was born. During this “time off” I also took on public relations contract work and several book projects.

The serenity, unspoiled wilderness and low population of Alaska couldn’t be more different than India, the second most populous nation on the planet with numerous social challenges in the midst of incredible economic growth. We’ve had our share of adjustments and adventures while living in this ancient, diverse and complex country. We plan to squeeze in as much as we can before our visas expire in May 2013!

This blog is possible with thanks to my husband (tech support), my parents (for everything, always) and my bosses at the University of Alaska (for supporting my time off) — President Pat Gamble and Vice President Carla Beam. Also thank you to the Public Affairs crew back home — Kate Wattum, Izzy Martinez and Monique Musick — for their willingness to take on more so that we can enjoy this incredible year.

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