Home » Crisp white wines » INTEGRITY. INDENTITY.


Two very big words.

Two enormous challenges.

Integrity is all about moral and ethical standards that are upheld regardless of the challenges.

I don’t think it is a coincidence that the word “integrity” has inside it the word “grit”.  Integrity usually requires courage, even in the face of dire consequences.  Integrity is that straightening of the spine and the confidence that compromised values are worth nothing.

And what is courage without integrity, if not self-delusionment, and often times self-aggrandizement?

Identity is how you define yourself, or how you let others define you.  Or not.

Identities are easily piled on a person, and at times are also stripped of a person.

Identity, interwoven with integrity, in contrast, is a self-determination to be one sort of a person and not another.  It is a proclamation “this is me”, a me that is no longer controlled by what others might try to attach to it.  Identity interwoven with integrity is Teflon – nothing will stick.

So much for light hearted posts about Grandma’s cooking and great wine…

He he…  Yes, that is my take on a subversive and evil laugh.

This is where you grab a glass of wine.  My glass is a 2013 Val de los Frailes Verdejo.  It is a medium bodied white, well balanced, and quite possibly my new favorite varietal.  This is a white wine that has the guts to stand up for what is right and true in the world.  Or at least to shellfish, grilled vegetables or a cheese appetizer.

Identity.  Part of my identity was stripped from me in December.  What I had perceived as a sort of “life’s work”, something that became in great part my identity, was gone. Disappeared. Eliminated.  It is unproductive to try to understand the motives of others, why they intentionally might harm someone else or even worse, a group of others.  In contrast, it is entirely productive to discover what might come next.  Being stripped of a former identity in fact gives me the freedom to come up with my own, new identity.  It’s almost like going to the hairdresser and saying “Update this old 90s hairdo, please!”

One newly developing identity for me:  TRANSLATOR.  I used to do translations on the side, until the kids came home to us.  Well, to be honest, it took me about two years to realize that a 3 and 5 year old would not just “occupy themselves” after school while I buried my face in four or five different dictionaries.  (Really??)  Or that some sort of dinner wouldn’t magically appear to appease those little hungry stomachs, too.  (So naïve!!)

I had some big projects back in the day: the New York State Driver’s Manual and Motorcycle Manual.  I also had some smaller but very interesting projects: a health warning for parents about their children’s piercings, and a health warning about contaminated Sheepshead fish in Lake Erie.  One project, outlining what foods needed to be served in licensed day care centers, was particularly challenging, taking into account all of the dialect variation found when identifying foods in Spanish.  “Biscuit” may be the single most difficult word to translate into Spanish!

This new identity as a translator is an exciting return to something I used to enjoy.  My website is up and running, with content still being added.  (Click here.)  The Spanish version will follow shortly.

Another new identity: EDUCATIONAL TRAVEL SPECIALIST.  I have deeply enjoyed educational travel with my undergraduate college students.  In the 15 years that I have traveled with students, I have had several returning adult students travel with me – they were usually not interested in getting college credit, but instead, they were just interested in learning all they could about their host country, language and culture.  These were students with life experience, with successful careers, with focused interest.  Contrast that with college-aged students traveling to a country where the drinking age is 18 ish.  Ahem.

This new identity is still in early stages, but from experience it seems there is a market for educational travel that does not lead to a degree, or carry the excessive costs of college tuition.  Sometimes adults want travel that is more about getting to a beach, plopping down with a book, and de-stressing.  Other times, however, adults want to learn about the cultural practices and language expressions around them.

Identity and integrity.  Washed down with a crisp Val de los Frailes verdejo.  Things are right and good in the world.


About Claire Ziamandanis

Claire Ziamandanis is Professor of Spanish at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. Over her 20 years at the college, she has been a champion for study abroad, establishing the first affiliation for Spanish students, and then working with the Study Abroad office to open the doors to students from other majors. Claire loves travel, food, wine and Spanish but not necessarily in that order!


  1. Looks great- GOOD LUCK!

  2. I love how you write about the word “grit” being in the word integrity – indeed, it takes courage to stand up for what you believe in. That you have handled all of these changes with such grace is a testament to what kind of person you are and that as you move forward you do so with wisdom and humor. And glass of wine in hand 🙂

  3. Thanks Anna – it has been a rough road lately. I’m not sure how much “grace” has been present, because there were many expletives along the way. And there still are many expletives. Keep in mind, too, that I have gone through this “prioritization” process without a dog to greet me at home every day. Do you need to blog about a dog’s love?????

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