October 2017
Vol. 16, Number 8

Management News

Conference News

Chapter News

Committee News

SIG News

Member News

Welcome to These New QRCA Members!

Welcome to these members who joined QRCA in August and September!

Mary Sorber

SorberMary Sorber is a senior practitioner specializing in user experience research, insight generation and blending qualitative and quantitative methods. She has a particular passion for making technology useful for people. As an in-house UX researcher at Cisco and Autodesk, she conducted international research and connected the dots between product development and the user experience. In addition to high-tech, she has domain knowledge in mobile, eCommerce, telecommunications, customer support and financial services. 

Today she is a principal at Practical Insights, a boutique qualitative research consultancy engineered to ask the right questions to get answers and insights that are a springboard for innovation and improved user experience. The three words that peers use to describe Mary are insightful, collaborative and customer-focused. She lives in Oakland, California, with her husband and two dogs.

Also Joining QRCA in August and September 2017:

Nikki Good
Hackensack, New Jersey
United States

Kelly Johnson
UC Berkley
Oakland, California
United States

Jayden Khakurel
Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT)
Long Beach, California
United States

Laura King
University of Maryland Baltimore County
Lusby, Maryland
United States

Amalia Leo
University of Namibia
Windhoek, Namibia

Aaron Nathan
Bentley University
Boston, Massachusetts
United States

Allena Nimetz
Elevated Insights
Colorado Springs, Colorado
United States

Margaret Lynn Pugh
Bend, Oregon
United States

Debra Tubbs-Mitchell
Columbia Southern University
Stafford, Virginia
United States

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QRCA Membership Milestones

Congratulations to these members reaching milestone anniversaries in September!

25 Years

20 Years

15 Years

10 Years

5 Years

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Adventures in Bolivia!

Shannon Thompson,

[Editor’s Note: Shannon Thompson is the executive director of QRCA and a member of the QRCA Board of Directors. Since early this summer, Shannon and her family have been participating in a six-month-long cultural exchange in Carmen Pampa, a rural village in Bolivia.]

Jon and I have talked about living in a Spanish-speaking country ever since Julia started speaking Spanish when she was about a year old (she’d been going to a home daycare run by a wonderful woman from Mexico!). Fast-forward to our baby starting high school this year, and we realized that if we didn’t do it now, we would likely never go. After some research and soul-searching, we decided to do our cultural exchange in Bolivia. The elementary school that our children all attend hosts about eight interns each year from Spanish-speaking countries, including two from the Unidad Académica Campesina-Carmen Pampa (UAC-CP) which is dedicated to making higher education available to young Bolivians with talent and ambition but with few economic resources.

Shannon and Family

Our adventures began on June 30 when we traveled to Cusco, Peru for a week of exploring the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. Everyone loved our week of hiking, learning about the Incan culture and exploring a new country. After a few days in La Paz, we arrived in Carmen Pampa, the rural village where we have been living since July 10. It’s about 60 kilometers from La Paz, but requires a good 2-3 hour drive because of the mountainous roads. Coroico is the nearest town and the place we go weekly to get groceries and supplies for the week. It’s a lovely small town that is famous as a launching pad for the Death Road, which used to be one of the most dangerous roads in the world but is now mostly used for mountain biking adventures.


Our day-to-day life includes me working for QRCA and teaching two English classes, Jon helping the college with technology and its systems, and the kids going to the K-12 school that is about a block from our house. Things are more challenging here in many ways (cooking most things from scratch, hand-washing laundry, periodically having no water), but also life is simpler and a lot less scheduled. The kids have time to play soccer with friends, Julia is teaching some of the kids English, and the boys like to take the nun’s dogs for walks. We get to eat almost every meal together, we often see the kids during their recess when they run home for a snack, and Jon and I have time for leisurely breakfasts and walks in the beautiful mountains where we live.

The village where we live is full of interesting students, community members and five other volunteers from the U.S. and Germany, and it’s been wonderful getting to know new people. My Spanish is at a beginner level — I’d hoped everything from my college days would return since I was pretty good then, but no luck. However, I continue to practice, as does Jon, who majored in German in college! The kids are completely fluent and it’s wonderful to watch them interact with everyone and help us when we need help.

Bolivians have strong and wonderful patriotism and traditional dances, songs and cultural traditions and we love getting to attend their cultural events. This past week there was a huge competition between the five majors at the college — everything from sports like volleyball and soccer to dancing, lip-synching, theater and a Miss/Mister contest. It was super-busy, interesting and fun to have the opportunity to watch the students and even to participate in some of the events. Jon and I also got to participate in our first Bolivian dance, which was super-fun, despite wearing a surprisingly heavy costume.


Time is flying by and we’re amazed that October is here already. The semester ends at the end of November, and during the first week of December we fly to Chile for a last wonderful trip in South America with Jon’s uncle before coming home for the holidays. We feel so grateful and fortunate to be on this wonderful cultural exchange here in Bolivia. We have been blogging about our trip (the authors change!) and if you are interested, you can check it out.

I look forward to seeing you all in Phoenix in January!

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