I still claim to be a Michigander, despite not having lived there for many years. Growing up with three brothers on a lake kicked off my love for football. Once, while basking in the sun on the dock, my dad found my brother reading Cosmopolitan and me reading about Fantasy Football. Although Michigan is very hospitable and strangers even wave when they drive by, I dreamed of living overseas and venturing out into the world.
At 19, I moved to Chicago, fell in love with the aviation industry, and began a 16-year career working for United Express Airlines. When 9/11 happened, it was frustrating to see the lack of communication and systems in place that were not working. I felt I had to do something about it, something bigger. I heard of several positions with the U.S. Government advertised and within a week of applying, I accepted the job that began my government career of nearly 20 years ago.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), an agency under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was created after 9/11 to implement and oversee security for all U.S. airports. I was part of the initial team hired for TSA and we rolled out the federalization of 429 airports across the country. The very first airport was in Baltimore, where I was a Terminal Coordinator and managed the newly hired screening workforce to follow federal regulations and International Civil Aviation Organization standards. Over the years, I gained the knowledge and experience to land my dream job in Singapore, where I have been focused on security for Asia Pacific for the last four years.
When I arrived in Singapore, it was comforting to become a member of a church and discover the Singaporean preacher I’d been following for years prior. During the last 20 months on the island, I began practicing yoga regularly and meditating for at least five minutes each morning to get my day started right. I then don’t feel guilty about eating my favorite Indian food from Annalakshmi, a restaurant run by volunteers, that offers pay-as-you-wish vegetarian dishes and the option to pay for meals for others too.
Life has a funny way of working out, as I was able to drop my daughter off at college at NYU in Shanghai, and soon learn of my position in Singapore, which put my mind at ease knowing I was not so far away. Before COVID, I traveled twice a month, and while it was tiring, I crossed many places off my bucket list like Thailand, India, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China. I did not think I would be able to do the Great Wall and the Taj Mahal until much later in life so I’m grateful for all the travel opportunities.
While I have loved my time here, and feel fortunate to have had my dream job, I am excited to return to the U.S. to be closer to my family, especially my son, daughter, dad, and brothers in Michigan. I also look forward to continuing my work at TSA to advance security measures across Asia Pacific with former colleagues from Singapore. We will have plenty to reminisce about when we are back in chilly D.C. for the winter!
Feel free to follow TSA on Instagram as we have a surprisingly funny account filled with travel tips and dad jokes! https://www.instagram.com/tsa/?hl=en
-Amanda Sanger, Transportation Security Administration