Being able to make a living doing something you truly enjoy is a situation in which few people find themselves.
But Annapolis native Ralph Marshall has been able to travel the globe and make a living teaching.
A 1985 graduate and standout soccer goalie at Annapolis High in 1983-1984 and four-year starting goalkeeper at Division III Dickinson (Pa.) College, Marshall has his sights set on obtaining a job as a Spanish/English interpreter for the upcoming Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.
To reach his goal, Marshall must contact the American consulate in Barcelona as well as the U.S. Olympic Committee to see iftranslators will be needed. If this is unsuccessful, he will go directly to the Spanish Committee to see if his services can be used.
"My main objective once I get there is to teach, whether it be at a university or a private school. But I think I have at least a 50-50 shot at landing a job as a translator. It all depends on how quickly mySpanish comes along," said Marshall.
After graduating with a bachelor's degree in East Asian studies in May 1989, Marshall, 25, started his international odyssey in a Princeton University-affiliated program called "Princeton In Asia," where he taught English at the University of Osaka in Japan.
At the program's end, the former second-team All-County goalkeeper packed his bags and headed for Juiz de Fora,Brazil -- three hours north of Rio de Janeiro, where he picked up Portuguese in a year-long course called "Portuguese for Foreigners," and spent close to a year teaching at the University of Juiz de Fora.
"Back in high school, if someone would have told me that I would wind up doing what I'm doing right now, traveling all over the world, Iwould have told them they were crazy," said Marshall. "After high school, I knew I wanted to go to college, and I wanted to continue playing soccer, but I never would have dreamed I'd be doing what I'm doing right now. I feel very fortunate."
After a two-week stay in Annapolis, Marshall left Sunday for Barcelona, where he will link up withhis 21-year-old fiancee Sayaka Funada, and begin the search for another teaching job. He plans to take intensive Spanish classes while there.
"I don't think it (Spanish) will be that hard. I already knowsome Portuguese, which is very close to Spanish," said Marshall, whoalso garnered a bronze medal in the 1985 county high school tennis tournament's doubles competition.
The Devils' Most Valuable Player during his senior soccer campaign (1988), Marshall closed out his college career with 18 shutouts. However, his biggest thrill may have come at the end of his freshman year.
During the summer of 1986, Marshall and 14 other Dickinson teammates took a playing tour across thePacific, to the Fiji Islands and Australia, with more than $45,000 in self-generated money.
"It definitely got me interested in traveling. I had never been to a Third World country. We were in Fiji rightbefore the coup, and you could see the problems that were developing, so in that sense it was very interesting," he said.
"You see people living a life of poverty, but yet they're still happy, or at least they appear that way. And when you look at their situation, it makes you feel lucky."
Playing international soccer also gave Marshallan appreciation for the camaraderie and sportsmanship between peoplefrom two completely different nations.
"Playing over there in Fiji made me realize how international soccer is. There's no other sportthat you could travel to any country in the world, basically, and find someone who would be willing to house you, and play against you, and become friends through a sport. There is no other sport in the world that's like that," he said.
For someone who will journey thousands of miles without real job security, Marshall remains very confident and optimistic.
"Right now, I'm not too worried about things, but as soon as I get there, that will probably change," said Marshall,while resting at home on Saturday evening. "I guess there's no reason to start worrying now. But I have confidence. I had to find a job in Brazil, so I think I can find something over in Spain."