- Associated Press - Sunday, August 10, 2014

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Taryn Small and her husband moved to Annapolis five-and-a-half years ago, arriving at a new home on Church Circle much different from their last.

The couple moved here from Auckland, New Zealand. In Auckland, Small held a job as manager of the Auckland City Ambassadors, escorting international students around the city and teaching them about its history.

She knew she wanted to remain in the hospitality industry, but didn’t know where she’d go.

Then, she visited the U.S. Naval Academy.

“If people come to Annapolis and don’t come to the Naval Academy, then that’s ridiculous,” Small said.

One of 44 certified guides who give walking tours at the academy, Small helps show off the service academy to visitors from around the world. She takes them through Bancroft Hall, the largest single dormitory in the world. She shows them the Naval Academy Chapel and the Crypt of John Paul Jones.

More than 1 million people visit the academy each year, and the Visitor’s Center takes about 70,000 people on tour each year. For many of those, the academy is their first stop in Annapolis.

The visitors have a lot of questions.

“Where are the best crabcakes? What would you do here? Where would you eat if you were going out to dinner?” Small said.

She also gets some questions about the academy.

“A lot of international visitors (know nothing about the academy),” Small said. “They’ll say, ‘Wow, they get a free education?’”

Since moving to Annapolis, Small and her husband have become sponsor parents for several midshipmen. Through that experience, she’s gotten to know how tough it is to be a mid.

“Eighty-eight percent of the people who get in here graduate,” she said. “That’s amazing.”

Unlike West Point and Colorado Springs, where the U.S. Military Academy and U.S. Air Force Academy are located, the Naval Academy is attached to a city that is beautiful to show off, Small said.

Though only an Annapolitan for five years, Small said the city beats other places she’s lived, including Auckland; Boulder, Colorado, Boston and California.

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