Candace Quander - Kultural Kurator
Updated: Aug 19, 2020
Ethnicity - African American
Occupation - Self Employed Virtual Assistant located in the Washington D.C.
What global experiences have you taken part in when you were a student and/or as a young professional?
Study abroad in Guadalajara, Mexico; Work abroad in Andújar, Jaén, Spain and Málaga, Spain
How has Global Education impacted you personally, academically, & professionally?
Studying abroad gave me the opportunity to live and learn in Spanish speaking country. That experience made me want to some day live abroad. It's not enough for me to travel and visit different places. I want to experience it like a native. Working abroad was the best decision of my life. So much so, that I planned to permanently move to Spain to become an English as a Foreign Language teacher. Living in Spain brought me pure happiness and an appreciation for how others live life. Though I'm no longer on my initial path, I still use my experiences and language capability to tutor Spanish to elementary aged children in Spanish immersion schools. It brings pure happiness to see the kids enjoying the language as much as I do.
What challenges have you had to overcome as you gained your global experience(s)? Studying abroad in Guadalajara, Mexico was fun but I was incredibly home sick. Though I enjoyed classes and hanging out with others from my university, I didn't really get to experience it fully. I was too afraid to step out of my comfort zone.
When I first arrived in Andújar, I didn't understand anything. I could speak and understand Spanish but they spoke a dialect of Spanish that I couldn't understand. This time I was all alone in a tiny town. After the first week I remember thinking I made a mistake moving abroad. It was my fear and anxiety taking over. The staff and students at my school opened me with open arms. Plus, a woman who I called my surrogate mom took me into her family. It really just took time for me to adapt. It was scary to uproot myself from the life that I knew in Washington, DC. But to this day, it was the best decision of my life.
Another challenge that proved difficult a very small fraction of the time is living well as a person of color. In Andujar, I lived in a nice apartment on a main corridor. Every morning people who didn't know me would stare at me because of my color. They didn't look at you and then glance away; they'd look at you for 30 seconds or so. Imagine a town of 30 thousand people and you're one of three black people living there. It was incredibly uncomfortable and eventually, I'd look them in their eyes until they glanced away.
I later found out that people were surprised that someone that looked like me could afford to live there. They assumed that I was from South America. Once they learned that I was American or British, the mood completely changed. It could be frustrating dealing with that as times; but, it was a reminder of how sub-Saharan Africans were treated on a regular basis.
What or who inspired you to take part in a study/internship/work abroad experience?
I studied abroad as part of Spanish language curriculum at Hampton University. I decided to work abroad because I was changing careers and wanted to become a teacher through the alternative route teaching certification program. The only course I had enough credit hours to teach were in Spanish. At that point in my life, it'd been almost 10 years since I last spoke a word of Spanish. Moving abroad completely immersed me in the language and culture.
How has your identity impacted your global experience(s)?
When I travel now, I make sure not to travel as others perceive Americans to be. It's odd to explain but American tourist have this quality that says "I'm American so I can do whatever I want." I can almost always pick us out of a group. I'm there to enjoy the experience and the culture like the natives who live there. That's one reason why I enjoy traveling to Spanish/Portuguese speaking countries. A lot of Portuguese can converse in Spanish too. It provides a new perspective of their culture and people seem to be more willing to aid you.
How has/ had seeing other people of color/diverse backgrounds influenced your decision to study/ intern abroad?
Before moving to Spain, I knew they had a race issue. There were very few people who looked like me that lived there. And the ones that did where either from South America or immigrated illegally from sub-Saharan Africa. Luckily, I've only had two negative experiences as a black person living there. I really think that as a woman of color, I know that I will be treated differently in a lot of foreign places. It doesn't deter me from traveling there.
As a Kultural Kurator, what does culture mean to you?
The language(s), dialects, way of life, food, architecture, art, style, etc inspired by locals.
Self/Soul care is so important as we live our lives and grow in our professions. How do you incorporate self/soul care into your life?
During Covid-19, it's hard. I usually try to travel abroad at minimum once a year. Traveling is my self care. I'm on my own schedule, usually visit friends and family, and just enjoy being in a different environment. The familiarity of it all gives me peace of mind and satisfaction.
What advice would you give to a future Kultural Kurator as they think about taking opportunities to explore the world around them?
Do it! It may be scary at first but it opens your eyes and heart to all of the amazing possibilities out there.
How can others follow you on social media?
On instagram @squanderlicious. My email address is email@example.com