Camila Restrepo- Chavez
Ethnicity - Colombian
AmericanOccupation - International Visiting Student Coordinator at UNC School of Medicine
Years in the field - 1.5
What global experiences have you taken part in when you were a student and/or a professional?When I was seven years old, my family migrated from our home country of Colombia to the United States. Since then, I have always been interested in global experiences and had the opportunity to study abroad and travel abroad. I studied abroad in Salamanca with the generous help of the Gilman Scholarship. I also traveled domestically to Texas, Georgia and California for alternative service break programs. I am still a young professional, so I have not had the chance to travel yet.
How has Global Education impacted you and your career choices? My career path was defined by my experiences in global education. As an undergraduate student majoring in Psychology, I wasn't sure where I would end up.After my experience abroad and realizing that my passions are helping students and providing opportunities, I pursued a Master's in Higher Education Administration. This afforded me the chance to work in a study abroad office and then led me to my first full time position. I am grateful for my global education and happy to be in the field.
What do you enjoy most about the work that you do in Global Education?The part I enjoy most about working in global education is meeting students from all different cultures and backgrounds. It's so great to learn about student's lives and what brings them to the United States. I also love connecting with students that live in places I have traveled to, and we have something in common to talk about. Overall, I think the best part is the curiosity and getting to know people (even if it's just for a little while!).
What challenges have you had to overcome as you work in Global Education? A challenge in working with people from different cultures and countries will always be the cultural differences that exist. However, I view this challenge as an opportunity to learn more about them and their culture. Other challenges I've encountered are stereotypes about certain groups and general ignorance about the field. It's disheartening sometimes and I wish our education system did a better job of educating us.
How has your cultural identity impacted your experience working in Global Education?I have become more comfortable in my cultural identity as I have worked in Global Education. I think it's because the people I am around appreciate my culture and are interested in learning more about me. This has allowed me to open up and share with others where I come from and what makes me who I am.
How has seeing other people of color/diverse backgrounds in International Education inspired you? As a young professional, seeing other people or women of color in the field encourages me to continue in this work. It shows me that I should be here and I am in the right place. I think we often doubt ourselves and where we are in life, but for me, it's a confirmation. I also appreciate seeing people like me because it is an instant connection, that goes beyond just the work that we do on a day-to-day basis.
As a Kultural Kurator, what does culture mean to you?Culture is what makes us, us. It's music, food, language, dance, customs, religion, it's our life.
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 am an introvert at heart and really value time alone to decompress and practice self care. For me, that's reading my kindle or watching TV in bed. It's also not checking email or working on work at home. It's important to be able to balance work and personal life. What advice would you give to a future Kultural Kurator as they think about taking opportunities to explore the world around them? Find your people and pour into them as much as they will pour into you. I have been blessed that my colleagues and supervisors have all become my people, they are my support system and my network. It's important to find these connections and nurture them, even when you move on to other positions or places in life. #kulturalkurators #colleagueconversations #wedothis #studyabroad #divesity