Christina Thompson - Kultural Kurator
She, Her, Hers
Ethnicity - Black/ African American
Occupation - Director of Partnership Development and Diversity Initiatives
Place of Employment -
Barcelona Study Abroad Experience
Years in the field:
What global experiences have you taken part in when you were a student and/or a professional?
I was not aware until attending college that study abroad was an option. Although I had travel out of the country once before for vacation, it was my working in the study abroad office as a work-study student and learning about these opportunities that pushed me to plan to study abroad in Mannheim in Graduate School many years later. Today, I have traveled to, worked in, or taught classes in over 25 countries. Most of my travels were centered around my work as a study abroad advisor, Director of Global Opportunities and later Faculty Leader in Cyprus. I have also served as a group leader for study abroad programs in London, England, Macau, China and Banjul, The Gambia.
How has Global Education impacted you and your career choices?
Initially, I was planning to go to law school and majored in Political Science but later decided after working in the International Education office at UNC Greensboro/UNC Exchange Program, through my bachelors and masters degree, that this work is my true calling. I can attest that there are few experiences you are partake in that will have the same outcome or transformational impact, then an international/intercultural immersion experience.
What do you enjoy most about the work that you do in Global Education?
I enjoy opportunities to travel, learn from other cultures and strengthen my language skills in places like the beautiful city of Barcelona, Spain. I also enjoy working with diverse professionals, partners, institutions, faculty and young people and problem solving complex issues relating to internationalization of higher education campuses. I think it’s important to spread the word that study abroad isn’t for the privileged and can be tranformative academic experience for everyone regardless of sex/gender identity, race/ethnicity, and social economic status (to name a few).
What challenges have you had to overcome as you work in Global Education?
In my career, I initially found it difficult to get my foot in the door. When I started, many of us interested in this work, fell into our roles as there wasn't an established international education academic path like it is today.
How has your cultural identity impacted your experience working in Global Education?
As an African American woman, I often found myself in workspaces that were not diverse, especially in the earlier years. There wasn’t a diverse representation among the professional staff in this field and there did not seem to be an interest in changing or adding diverse perspectives until recently.
How has seeing other people of color/diverse backgrounds in Global Education inspired you?
Recently, it's been encouraging to see more people of color engaging in international education like never before but still the numbers are statistically much less than white students and professionals. The increase of people of color in field has changed the narrative and pushed conversations deeper and further than before. I hope that this will continue and the pushback will decrease so that we can keep this new wave of diversity engaged in this importance work.
As a Kultural Kurator, what does culture mean to you?
Culture is a way of life and trading knowledge of oneself creates natural bridges over time.
Self care is so important as we live our lives and grow in our professions. How do you incorporate self care into your life?
This is an area that I need to be do better in. I feel that as a person of color and as a woman, we push ourselves to work harder, as their has been some doubt cast on our ability because of our sex, culture or the color of our skin historically. Recently I have tried to practice quiet moments or as I call it "mini meditational moments” to destress and not think for a minute.
What advice would you give a future Kultural Kurators as they think about working in this field?
It's very rewarding work but don't expect others to understand right away. You have to be open to being ambassador to this work and sometimes your culture.
How can others follow you on social media?
You can find me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christina-thompson-she-her-hers-31608547/