Michael holds a PhD in Russian History and Central Eurasian Studies from Indiana University Bloomington. Michael wrote his dissertation on the Barefooted Flight of the Kazakhs, following a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad fellowship in Kazakhstan.
Teresa is Visiting Professor of Spanish at Roanoke College. She holds a PhD in Spanish Literature, also from Indiana University Bloomington. She wrote her dissertation on how early-modern nuns in the hispanophone transatlantic used the Biblical Song of Songs to construct their self-identity and to build their relationships with God.
Michael is from rural Michigan, growing up first in the village of Vassar and then in the town of Davison, both located in the area known locally as “the Thumb.” He has a large family, with two sisters, many aunts and uncles, and dozens of cousins.
Teresa comes from Indianapolis. She grew up in the suburb of Lawrence with her brother and sister. She also has a large extended family, with whom she spent many summers on the shores of Lake Michigan and in the backwoods of southern Indiana.
After getting their Bachelor Degrees, Michael and Teresa both served as a Peace Corps Volunteers. Michael served first for six months in Uzbekistan and then another two years in Kazakhstan, while Teresa served a three-year term entirely in Kazakhstan. Michael’s time in Uzbekistan was short because the events of May 2005 led directly to the end of the Uzbekistan Peace Corps program. In Kazakhstan, Teresa taught English in the village of Shieli, while Michael taught English in the village of Sayram. Living in Sayram inspired him to study Central Asian history.
Michael and Teresa have three daughters: Jansamal, Quralai, and Aqmaral.