Mr. Kiriakis: a globe-trotting teacher

Otjitotongwe Cheetah Park, Kamanjab, Namibia, Africa. Taken in 2014.

Mr. Kiriakis could definitely be classified as a dreamer.
Many know him here as a math teacher, but he’s a world-traveler in his free time. During the past six years, Mr. K has been to approximately 43 countries. He has managed to become addicted to traveling while being a full-time teacher.

“It’s not the travelling, it’s the learning,” says Mr. K. He encourages people to travel, even alone like when he did an entire eastern Europe trip by himself. Some may think it’s terrifying to voyage out alone, but he sees it differently. “The world is scary. It’s scary to venture out on your own.”  A common saying is that life is all about taking risks. “Take that leap and do things on your own. Be prepared, be smart. It’s always great to be by yourself so you learn more.”

Although he says that every place has its good and its bad, Mr. Kiriakis has some favorite trips. Going through seven countries in Africa showed him the continent’s kind people, raw nature, and the people’s humility. He also enjoyed his Scandinavian trip where he visited Iceland and hiked the backcountry of Norway for five to six days. He has also climbed Mt. Fuji in Japan and the two highest peaks in Norway. When traveling alone, he has met new people everyday, and still keeps in touch with some, receiving occasional postcards.


Big Daddy Sand Dune in Sossusvlei, Namibia, Africa. Taken in 2015.
Big Daddy Sand Dune in Sossusvlei, Namibia, Africa. Taken in 2015.

With all travels, one must be “conscious and aware.” While Mr. Kiriakis has never run into any real issues while globe-trotting, he has had minor scares. He was caught in the middle of a government protest in Ireland, and split his foot open swimming in volcanic rock in Italy. After visiting a Turkish bathhouse, he contracted food poisoning. He didn’t know if this was due to the pork he ate in Poland or the sushi he ate in Austria during the priort three days.

When one thinks of traveling, they think of food. Mr. K thinks the best food is the street food in Taiwan, but he’s always down for a good Mexican taco. He’s also tried strange delicacies like pig stomach in Spain or soup with chicken throats in Taiwan.

Being on the move for sometimes three months at a time, it’s natural to feel homesick for most, but not for Mr. Kiriakis. “It’s nice to come home. I’ve never been the homesick type. It’s nice to leave too. Once I get home, I want to go right back out.” He’s even thought about leaving more permanently, and owns an Australian visa. He has thought about moving to Australia or Europe and possibly teaching there. “I always think about getting out of here, teaching, or doing something else.”


Jotunheimen Mountain Area, Norway. Taken in 2014.
Jotunheimen Mountain Area, Norway. Taken in 2014.


His passion for traveling bleeds into his teachings. Nate Hassel said that Mr. K’s comments on travel spark interest in him to travel the world and experience all the different cultures. Kelli White agrees. “The places he talks about seem interesting and I feel like I want to travel the world.” Mr. Kiriakis also includes bonuses questions about where he has been. His students say he does integrate his travels into his teachings.


Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon, Arizona. Taken in March 2015.
Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon, Arizona. Taken in March 2015.

Traveling and exploring means having no obligations, and Mr. Kiriakis appreciates that: the experience of being free is his favorite thing about traveling.
Next on Mr. K’s list is Vietnam.

About Marisela Rechner

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