Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Meet Sarah Bonilla / AdventGeekGirl!

Happy Tuesday everyone! It's time to meet another amazing Geek. Today I would like to introduce Sarah, aka +(AdventGeekGirl) 
Sarah here was actually nominated by 2 fellow iggles! The first nomination came from Christina, aka @kwsw0917 on Twitter:
"I love her enthusiasm for Table top games. And the message that anyone can play them." - Christina
The second nomination came before this interview was published, from Sarah's 2nd pen pal Krystelle, aka +Krystelle MT:
"I think she'd be a good candidate because she started a tabletop gaming club at the school she teaches at. Kids today need exposure to things like that - activities that make them think, are fun, and require actual face to face people time. And not only that, she also takes the time to write for the +5 Charisma blog - talking about game that some of us might not have heard about otherwise, how to play the games, and even how to throw themed parties to match them if you want to hose a game night! I really admire all that she does for the kids at her school, and for fellow iggles." - Krystelle
So, without further ado, it's time to meet Sarah!
TWW(s): As of this moment, what are your Top 5 Geek Loves?
Sarah: I always find the Top 5 Geek Loves hard without clustering things into super general headings. But here are my general Geek Loves . . . and yes . . . I cheated with slashes . . . sue me!
1. Tabletop Games
2. Zombies (seriously . . . all things zombie)/Ghosts (yes, all things ghost)
3. Sci-Fi (Star Trek/Star Wars/Asimov/TV Stuff)
4. Stephen King (serious Stephen King nerd over here . . . we even have the same initials . . . *swoon*)
6. NUNS!!!

TWW(s): If you had to describe yourself in 5 words, what would they be? Why those words?
Sarah: Silly - No, seriously . . . I'm really super silly. It's even my teaching style.
Sensitive - I've always been very emotional and I wear those emotions on my sleeve. It's a great and terrible trait.
Motivated - I'm driven and never one to back down or be thwarted by failure.
Adventurer - Get me a backpack! Let's do this!
Teacher - Since it takes up most of my waking life, it also gives an indication of my passions and where my heart is.

TWW(s): What is the #1 thing in your life that you are the most excited about right now? Something that you're just dying to fangirl/gush about?
Sarah: I'm super Walking Dead gushy right now. I go against my own bedtime just to be able to watch The Walking Dead AND The Talking Dead and I usually rewatch it at some point too. I started reading the graphic novels earlier and I'm super into all things The Walking Dead (even games right now.)
TWW(s): What would you say are some of your favorite Tabletop games and why? (it's related because you love both Tabetop games and zombies, but right now my friends and I are obsessed with Dead of Winter. It's so much fun to play!)
Sarah: Dead of Winter is fun, but I prefer Zombicide! It's just so epic! But yes, Dead of Winter is A-W-E-S-O-M-E!
My favorite game, which now stems a little bit more from nostalgia, is Pandemic. We spent hours upon hours and nights upon nights trying to take down those viruses! We tried combinations and characters and everything. It was so much fun and you never knew how it would turn out. Determination!
I love Cards Against Humanity, but only with close friends. Dixit is another game that is close to my heart. Over the last six months my game collection has exploded and my exposure to games has increased tenfold and I have barely had time to take a breath and really assess the current state of my loves. I do find that I like games that play with a pretty decent clip to them. I don't like long, languishing games where it will give my husband 1/2 an hour to figure out his next move. Trust me . . . he'll find a way.
TWW(s): I'm like that too, take forever to decide what to do on my turn, ask my friends XD

TWW(s): I myself write Tabletop reviews in my spare time - when did you first get into Tabletop games? When did you find that you enjoyed writing about them?
Sarah: I've been playing Tabletop games for years! Going back to Magic: The Gathering in 1997 (and classic games before that). Since then I've expanded and expanded and expanded. My husband, our friend Jum, and I collect games together and whenever we can get together, it is gaming practically 24/7.
I started writing reviews out of a need to find a voice in the gaming community. I used to write film reviews and was a full-fledged film critic until 2009 when I had to reassess my life. It only seemed natural to share my love of games with others and put a fun spin on gaming culture bu adding in my love of food and nerdy-party-ness.
After attending GenCon, I noticed that so many women who gamed were attached to it through their boyfriend or husband or guy friends and I wanted to try to embark on a journey to expose women to games so they can stand alone as informed gaming individuals.
TWW(s): Describe a typical day in your life. Where do you go? What do you do?
Sarah: I get up at 5AM (CST). I try to be out of the house by 6AM so that I can get up to my clasroom and work on my elaborate SMARTBoard lessons for my sixth graders. I call the A-wing of my building "The Tower." At 8:15AM you hear the swarm of sixth graders stomping up the stairs, and a few declaring themselves THE FIRST ON THE FLOOR! After 8:20 my class and I listen to the announcements (which may or may not include an awesome Tabletop Gaming Club Announcement written by yours truly).
My first hour class is Literacy - Reader's Workship. Then I have the same group of kids second hour for Literacy - Writer's Workshop. Third hour is Social Studies. This year I was finally accepted into the ranks of the elite "Literacy - Social Studies Gang." It's really super sweet, because I do really enjoy Literacy and Social Studies. My 4th hour is Literacy - Reader's Workshop with a new group of sixth graders. Then it's recess/lunch. I started a Tabletop Gaming Club at my school last year, so ever lunch/recess my room is filled with gamers.
After we bid the students farewell, teachers can't leave until 3:50PM and, depending on workloads, we might stay later to finish some projects, do book orders, grade papers, etc. Once I leave, I'm either running errands or stopping at the grocery store. I get home around 5PM and I'm probably starting dinner. Gotta greet the wee-one and ask about her day. Greet the dog and the husband. I spend time with my daughter for about an hour and then she goes to bed at around 7/7:30. I jump on the treadmill for about an hour at sometime of the night, it all depends on how the night goes.
I pop on and off the internet, checking email, Facebook, Twitter, IGGPPC, etc. Field phone calls from friends and my mom. Maybe I'll even get in a Tabletop game with my husband. Then I watch TV until about 9PM. I head to bed at 9 and am asleep typically by 10PM. I read my Kindle and try to relax until my eyes betray me and I'm out. Then it's up again at 5AM to do it all again.

TWW(s): How did the Tabletop Gaming Club at your school come to be? When did you start it?
Sarah: I used to use games when I taught Sunday School in North Carolina. It was a way to engage the kids while also talking to them about the ussues and teaching them certain positive skills. So when I started teaching at my school, I wanted something to help build relationships.
Before our school year started, I e-mailed my principal and told her about the idea I had for the club. I explained that it was beneficial for helping to build skills students could use in their academic classes. It also worked to strengthen social skills and analytical thinking. I laid out the format for the club and she approved. So in the fall of 2013, I hosted the first informational meeting and then started teaching a game every other Monday every week for the rest of the year.
The club has been so successful that when we host incentives at our school, I've been given the responsibility of running a large game room in our school's library. We also hosted International Tabletop Day last year, but this year it falls during our Spring Break, so we're going to host another event.
TWW(s): Tell us a bit about your family :)
Sarah: My immediate family is myself, my husband, and my daughter. My husband and I met through AOL in 1997. I did a profile search for writers in North Carolina (my friend had moved there and I thought it'd be fun to meet someone from there) and this one guy was online. So we played e-mail/IM tag for a few days and then we started talking. The rest is history. Married in 2004. In 2009 we found out we were going to have our first child, after moving home from Scotland, and in August 2010 we had our daughter Isabelle.

TWW(s): If you could travel anywhere, real or fictional, where would it be and why? A foreign country, the world of your favorite novel, sky's the limit!
Sarah: I want to go to New Zealand. I am super in love with the visual settings of the Lord of the Ring and the Hobbit movies and I haven't been to that part of the world. I suffer from Romanticism and it is just too beautiful to not want to visit. Even though it's not on my Geek Loves, I seriously love hobbits.
TWW(s): When did you first become an iggle and how did you originally hear about the IGGPPC?
Sarah: I think it was June 2014. I've been seeking out positive places for Geek Girls to bond together. I always am surrounded and interact with guy geeks all the time and, no offense, but guy geeks have a vibe all their own. Sometimes a girl geek has just gotta let her geek girl out! I think I was browsing or googling girl and geek and the site popped up and I was like "hmm . . . intrigued."

TWW(s): Tell us about any pen pals you've met through the IGGPPC!
Sarah: I actually just got a card from my second penpal in the mail wonderinf if I had gotten her letter. She's addicted to New Kids on the Block, which is awesome! I even was abe to share a childhood story I had about the boy group. We haven't exchanged much, but I think she's super spiffy awesome!

I've also met a few great girls through swaps and they've sent me little cards and postcards. I love how thoughtful everyone is and it really inspires me to be more awesome with how I send out stuff. I wish I could be as focused as some of the awesome ladies on the IGGPPC and remember to send ut lots of cards for things, but then again . . . look at my typical day! ;-)
TWW(s): When did you start self-identifying as a geek?
Sarah: It's funny that you ask, because my whole current persona stems out of myself accepting who I am instead of always trying to be someone I am not. That is how I came up with the name Advent Geek Girl (Advent Rising?).
I've had some incredibly life-altering experience in the past five years that alter your life in an incredibly stressful way. To the point where I started to wonder if I was suffering from some sort of PTSD or something. But being the type of person I am, I'm always moving forward. I started to try to get to the root of my problems and discover the seed of my own happiness. What I started to realize was that there was a term for me that I'd never really applied to myself before: Geek.
As I started to engage myself more and more into the world of geekdom, I found more and more happiness. And the things cnnected to who I was and who I always have been, but I had shunned the label. I was always trying to fit into all these other molds and all these other personas that just didn't seem to fit and always left me feeling frustrated with myself. I haven't felt that frustration throughout the last two years of embracing my inner geek.
I can, though, trace my geek all the way back to my childhood, which probably explains some of my social problems. I always wanted to be part of a crowd that I wasn't meant to be a part of. If only I had known then what I know now.
TWW(s): Thank you so much for your honesty :) I'm sure plenty of geeks out there, including me, can relate to your experiences.

TWW(s): Look at the Iggle Manifesto and tell us your favorite line from it, or the line you'd like to most apply to yourself, and why.
Sarah: Right now I have to apply the most self-oriented lines of, "I will proudly be myself," "I will be my best self, daily," and "I will not doubt myself." I am incredibly self-conscious and I am overly critical of myself all the time. I wouldn't say I'm a perfectionist, but I can't seem to accept the fact that I'm REALLY good at things and that I need to be proud of who I am and what I do. I need to be proud of myself, my new found self, and everything that goes with it. I have to empower myself before I can empower and inspire others. Which is weird to say, considering I give 70% of myself to my students every day.
Want to get to know Sarah? Find her on Twitter and tell her how awesome she is and to keep up the good work :)
Also check out her blog, Augmenting Geekology!

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