Feb. 14, 2006 – After spending the last 14 years living in a small community in Newport, Ore., Lisa Noah is now ready to call the Virgin Islands home.
"My husband, Peter, and I were looking for an adventure," the Korean-born Noah said. "We only have one daughter, and she's off on her own now, so we decided that we wanted to have a little fun and find a new place that we enjoyed living in."
Noah explained that the opportunity to move to the Virgin Islands presented itself last year when Peter came to St. Thomas on a business trip. "He was working on building an aquarium in Oregon at the time, and when he came down here, he got to meet Trudie Prior from Coral World," Noah said. "They got to talking about some of Trudie's plans to change the place, and eventually she offered Peter a job as vice president of operations."
While happy for her husband, Noah said when first she heard the news it was difficult for her to be enthusiastic about moving. "At that point, I was working at the Chamber of Commerce in Newport as the Director of Economic Development and Operations," Noah said. "My job was to attract businesses into our community and help them whenever they needed assistance."
On her own time, Noah said she also took an avid interest in her Oregonian community and focused much of her efforts on improving Newport's education system. "I believe that education should be a priority for a community, and I was a speaker in some of our local classrooms and helped collect various resources for the schools," she said.
"I also volunteered with the state's lottery commissioner and helped collect $1 million for our education system," Noah said.
Noah said she also worked with some of Oregon's elected officials to improve Newport's infrastructure. "There are also a lot of disadvantaged in Newport, and when I left we were working on providing dental care for some of those citizens. Being a part of the community that way was a big part of my life, and it was hard for me to leave that," Noah added.
Noah said a part of her was also afraid of being part of a new community. "I think everyone has that fear when they move to a new place," she said. "As an outsider coming in, you kind of don't know what you're reception's going to be, and that's always a concern for me, especially being a minority myself."
However, after a spending a month on the island, Noah said she has sunk happily into life on St. Thomas and is working alongside her husband as Coral World's director of guest relations. "When your whole life has been volunteering, it gets a little lonely when you don't have that anymore," she said. "But it's beautiful here, and I love the people, and working at Coral World is not really an eight-to-five job. We're trying to do a lot of things here, and sometimes that keeps us working from early in the morning until late in the night. But it's great because I know that we're working toward putting a vision in place, and that's exciting for me."
In her new capacity, Noah explained that she is working with Prior to return the marine park to its former glory. "My job is to make sure that our visitors get consistent, excellent service from the park," she said, a little out of breath from rushing around during the day. "I work with customer service and retail. And what we're all trying to do is make this place into a great hangout for the community."
In terms of volunteering, the bright and bubbly Noah said she has also joined the St. Thomas Chamber of Commerce and will continue to get more involved in the island's community. "This place is my home," she said. "This island is my island, and this community is my community, and I want to bring something to it. I believe that people should never just go somewhere and take — they have to give back and that's something I look forward to doing."
"We also hope that our daughter will make this her home," Noah added. "She's doing her own thing now, but someday, when she has a family, maybe she'll come down here and join us."
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