Ymani S. Hawkins
Ethnicity - African American
Occupation - Behavioral Assistant (Social Worker)
What global experiences have you taken part in when you were a student and/or as a young professional?
I had the opportunity to study abroad at the American College of Greece in Athens, Greece during my undergraduate career. The trip consisted of a few days in London, followed by a semester in Greece.
How has Global Education impacted you and your academic and career choices? Global Education has positively impacted myself, my academic, and career choices. Immersing myself into culture unlike my own is a knowledge one cannot obtain via lecture or a textbook. The opportunity to learn new languages and dialects, understand each country’s respective political views, indulge in their delicacies, interact with the people, listen to their perspectives pertaining to my culture and my county opens my eyes and provides me with an education I never would have experienced within the limits of my country’s educational system.
What challenges have you had to overcome as you gained your global experience(s)?Personally, racial and language disparities seemed to be the two most challenging obstacles faced in my experience abroad. I found my skin color, hair (which was in box braids at the time), and way in which I carried myself offended or startled those who are not familiar with it. Regarding the language barrier, because I was only familiar with a few words in the Greek language, it was sometimes very challenging to get around and communicate with the natives.
What or who inspired you to take part in a study/internship/work abroad experience?
My family members and mentor are huge advocates for international travel and learning. They’ve instilled in me the importance of learning new culture, understanding people, building interpersonal relationships, and seizing every opportunity to explore what’s beyond the “four walls” of the United States.
How has your cultural identity impacted your global experience(s)?
My cultural identity has become solidified and validated as a result of my experience abroad. As an African American woman, I find myself constantly having to represent “us all” at all times. Throughout my experience I’ve run into people who constantly asked about “my people” or insinuated things pertaining to the fact that I was a black woman. My cultural identity was my global experience because I could not escape from who I was. I feel as though the lens through which I experienced studying abroad was affected by the fact that I am black. As a result, I became confident in who I was and glad to have that opportunity to represent who I am in a place that lacked representation.
How has seeing other people of color/diverse backgrounds influenced your decision to study/ intern abroad?
In my personal experience, the lack of representation pertaining to black women studying abroad largely impacted and influenced my decision to go. I wanted to be a part of that numerical statistic that represented us traveling to pursue our education in an untraditional way.
As a Kultural Kurator, what does culture mean to you?
Culture to me- is every component that makes one who they are.
Self Care is so important as we live our lives and grow in our professions. How do you incorporate self care into your life?
I incorporate self care through spiritual reflection (prayer, reading the Bible, meditation), removing myself from a familiar place and enjoying the outdoors, having a glass of wine on occasion, and having moments throughout the day to simply breathe and “be present”.
What advice would you give to a future Kultural Kurator as they think about taking opportunities to explore the world around them?
I would tell them to “Just Do It”. I would encourage them to seize every opportunity there is to further their education and expand their horizons through traveling.