Gail and Jerry Klink are wintering in Siesta Key for the first time. At first glance, the Granville, Ohio, couple seems like any other snowbirds, but on Feb. 21, they spoke at Siesta Key Chapel about the interesting places their lives have taken them.
Gail Klink was one of two teachers selected in Ohio for the Teachers in Space project, which was introduced in 1984 to honor teachers and inspire students. Klink, an English and Spanish teacher, was one of the finalists to be the first teacher in space on the Challenger space shuttle. After the tragic Challenger disaster, the program was discontinued, but Klink was inspired to use her experience and skills as an educator in a new way.
Klink found a lot of demand from people wanting to hear her story, and she was inspired to become a professional public speaker.
“At first, people just wanted to hear about my experience with Teachers in Space,” Klink said. “But I started branching out to speak about all kinds of topics.”
Today, she has spoken in more than 40 states and has given seminars with the Wright Group and Fred Pryors Seminars.
On Tuesday, she and her husband, Jerry, spoke about their experiences living in Saudi Arabia.
In 1994, Jerry was asked to join the Alhamrani Group to start a Fiberglass company in the Middle East, where the Klinks lived for five years.
Gail recounted the differences between Saudi and American customs and lifestyles, highlighting the struggles women face, and Jerry spoke about the challenges and advantages of doing business in Saudi Arabia, which he continues to do.
The Klinks hope people will walk away with a better understanding of the similarities and differences between the two cultures.
“It gives you a more diverse perspective,” said Gail of their time spent in Saudi Arabia. “America isn’t the only thing out there. We might be different, but that’s OK.”