Natasha Rodriguez - Kultural Kurator
Ethnicity - Afro-Latina
Occupation - Founder & CEO of Journey Mom LLC
What global experiences have you taken part in when you were a student and/or as a young professional?
During my sophomore year of college and six months after the birth of my son, I decided to study abroad. I spent my winter term studying Italian language and culture in Genoa, Italy. Shortly after, I participated in an alternative break program where I learned about sustainable development while renovating a school in Los Andes, Guatemala. The last winter term of my undergraduate studies was spent abroad in Puntarenas, Costa Rica where I studied Latin American history, culture, and language. As a young professional, I have done extensive global travel to over 20 different countries spanning across five continents.
How has Global Education impacted you personally, academically, & professionally?
Global Education has had a major impact on how I see the world and how the world sees me. On a personal level, it has helped me learn more about myself and the spaces I occupy. Being able to connect with people across the globe has strengthened my interpersonal skills. It has also taught me to value similarities while honoring differences across cultures. On an academic level, I have grown in my communication skills and problem-solving skills as I had to adapt to new ways of living while navigating unfamiliar spaces. On a professional level, it has enhanced my training toolkit where I can incorporate personal experiences in my diversity, equity, and inclusion workshops.
What challenges have you had to overcome as you gained your global experience(s)? Some challenges I have faced is trying to adapt back to home life after being away. I constantly crave the food, weather, language and people of where I just left. I often feel torn leaving my new home to return to my old home. In addition, I find myself trying to influence others to be more open-minded about the way other communities live and operate. Whenever I hear a relative or friend “bad mouth” a person or place they have never interacted with or visited I feel naturally inclined to speak up which sometimes causes conflict.
What or who inspired you to take part in a study/internship/work abroad experience?
During my high school years, I had a mentor who worked for the world bank. She traveled across the globe and always made sure to mail me a postcard. This motivated me to be like her and travel the world too.
How has your identity impacted your global experience(s)?
Being a young woman of color from the States has sometimes had its advantages and sometimes it has its disadvantages when trying to make connections with the locals. There are some people who naturally gravitate to me while others steer clear of me. I have experienced colorism because of my light skin and treated differently for being American. Also, there are some spaces I have traveled to where I have not encountered another traveler of my ethnic background so I am vigilant of how I conduct myself because I could leave a lasting impression for others that follow.
How has/ had seeing other people of color/diverse backgrounds influenced your decision to study/ intern abroad?
It makes me want to continue my global travel and inspire other young woman of color to do so. I believe stories are the best souvenirs, so I prefer to be rich in life experiences.
As a Kultural Kurator, what does culture mean to you?
Culture drives how we see ourselves, how we see the world, and how the world sees us.
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?
Travel is my biggest form of self-care. There is something very liberating for me about jumping on a flight to an unknown place not knowing what to expect yet open to the possibilities of adventure. I also love sharing my stories with others in both written and oral formats. Lastly, I am a big foodie, so I love to indulge in great cuisine along with wine. Being able to step away from my day to day hustle and bustle to do any of those three things keeps me sane.
What advice would you give to a future Kultural Kurator as they think about taking opportunities to explore the world around them?
My first piece of advice is to remind them that traveling is a privilege and not to take it for granted. My second piece of advice is to fully immerse themselves in that culture by speaking the native tongue, trying the local cuisines, learning the music & dance, and engaging with the locals. There is something very life changing about tapping into other cultures with humility and respect. My third piece of advice is to not wait on others to start traveling. Waiting on others will cause you to miss out on some of life’s greatest experiences- seize your moment today!
How can others follow you on social media and/or is there an email address or website that you'd like to share?