It has been such a whirlwind of a first week, apologies for getting a little behind in our updates!  We are currently in Santa Barbara staying with some of the most wonderful people, Norm and Trish Popp.  This evening we were  able to go to a dinner at The Bryants and enjoy a great time of fellowship with some old and new friends.  There was a group of girls from the Westmont Girls Soccer team there and that was wonderful for Phiona to get to “hangout” with some girls her same age.  The next few days will be filled with more of the same, just relaxing and enjoying time with friends in the beautiful California SUNSHINE!

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Don’t worry, I have not forgotten to recap our Thursday, our morning began with a television interview with Mark Wright on KING5 news station.  Mark was also the rotarian member that came to West Seattle Elementary to play chess with Phiona and interview her at the Seattle Rotary Club meeting on Wednesday.  Mark was a great host and interviewer, if you would like to see the interview, you may follow this link, .



Next up was the entire reason this trip began, we headed to The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  The Gates Foundation invited Robert and Phiona to come and share to their staff her story of hope and perseverance.  SOI had been working closely with Kate Reizner for the past several months arranging all of this, so finally meeting her in person was so fun.  Kate showed us around the foundation before taking us to a board room where Phiona and Robert could relax with fruit and coffee before meeting their interviewer, Susan Byrnes.  Susan, had already read the book so she knew their story which made speaking to them and having the questions to ask so easy.  It put Robert and Phiona immediately at ease which helped tremendously with confidence and comfort later on stage.  After the interview, the Foundation had a giant chessboard outside that they had ready for Phiona to take on a few employees if they so dared.  Luckily, despite the ever present rain clouds there was one brave sole who tried with the help of a few other employees in the crowd, but despite the help, the “Queen” still won, it was great.  They were very well received and enjoyed the time they had with Susan, Kate and all the employees who took the extra time after they spoke to come and spend an extra few minutes with them.

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Elliot Neff was awaiting them to finish with the foundation and met them at The Space Needle for some time to chat and give them another lesson.  It was a little cloudy with the off and on rain but it was spectacular views and a great setting to be able to relax and have time to sit, eat and learn for a bit.  Following lunch there was a school visit arranged by Elliot and Chess4Life, as always Robert and Phiona love being able to share with children so this time was very enjoyable followed by a Chess4Life Tournament.  The tournament was for children involved in the Chess4Life program, Robert and Phiona enjoyed spending time with Elliot and the children. Phiona was able to even play a few rounds with a couple of the kids competing!





Seattle, though wet it was, was a beautiful and incredibly welcoming city.  Robert and Phiona both enjoyed Wendi, Kat, Elliot, Susan and Kate and of course all the school principals, students and everyone else who helped make it all happen.

Here a few fun pictures and of course if you visit our Photos page you can find more from events there as well.