Randeep Kullar - Kultural Kurator
Ethnicity - Indian American
Occupation - International Education and Career Counselor
Years in the field: 10
What global experiences have you taken part in when you were a student and/or a professional?
Ironically enough, I am one of the few people I have met in International Education that did not study abroad while I was in school. I wanted to while I was in undergrad, however, being a first generation college student cultural perceptions and the financial implications of study abroad did not allow me to participate. I spent two months in India as an 8 year old and had to report back on my experiences as a second grader, but beyond that, I didn't travel internationally until I actually began working in international education. My academic background as a Career Counselor gave me the unexpected opportunity to create and manage international internship programs early on. This was my first foray into this world and I haven't stopped since. My now ten years in international education have given me the privilege to have traveled to many places for work visiting international university partners and students as well as for pleasure.
How has Global Education impacted you and your career choices?
My initial career choices were not impacted by Global Education directly, however, my decision to remain in international education has definitely been. Since joining the field, I have learned how important exposure to other countries and people is in being able to not only understand and open ourselves to other world views, but also in understanding ourselves. I don't think you know what it means to be x, until you've experienced y. For example, in my case, I didn't know what it meant to be American, until I experienced another country and culture that was able to give me perspective. It is very easy to stay within our bubble. Helping myself and students understand this space is what makes me stay in this field.
What do you enjoy most about the work that you do in Global Education?
Like I mentioned in my previous response, helping students grow to understand themselves and those around them is one of the things I enjoy most about Global Education. There are so many different cultures, histories, and perspectives out there. Getting a small taste keeps you continuously wanting more which will hopefully result in more growth, understanding, and compassion for the people around us.
What challenges have you had to overcome as you work in Global Education?
Diversity and access are the two larger challenges that I've experienced and have worked to overcome. Professionals in the field and the students that go abroad are still not very diverse. Much of this has to do with perceptions around Global Education as well as barriers of which a large one can be financial. I don't want Global Education to be something only members of a certain group or socioeconomic status have access to. We've made strides in the field to address this, but much more work needs to be done.
How has your cultural identity impacted your experience working in Global Education?
My cultural identity as a first generation Indian American has directly impacted my experiences in the field. I don't see many people that look like me in this space and so much of the work I have done has been to make sure voices like mine are heard and represented at the table. I have found it to be reassuring to students and even their parents to see someone that looks like them advocating for opportunities.
How has seeing other people of color/diverse backgrounds in Global Education inspired you?
Having role models who look like you to look up to or colleagues who can empathize with your experiences as a POC (People of Color) is important in feeling like you belong and aren't alone in a space that doesn't necessarily look like you. The amount of work that many of my POC colleagues have to do beyond their day-to-day because of the way they identify is an inspiration unto itself, not to mention the amazing support they provide each other and their students. These colleagues are what keep me motivated to do the work that needs to be done even on the days that it may seem impossible.
As a Kultural Kurator, what does culture mean to you?
Culture is everything around us that allows us to become who we are.
Self/Soul Care is important as we live our lives and do this work. How do you incorporate self/soul care into your life?
As much time as we spend taking care of others in this field, it is just as important to take time to take care of ourselves. I do this by making sure to take time to do the things I enjoy such as reading, watching movies, and spending time with my friends and family, but also by investing in my mental health and seeing a therapist. Many people think of therapy as something that is needed in extreme situations. Yes, it is 100% useful in those cases, but it is also helpful just for regular check-ins even when things seem to be going really well. Having an objective individual help you navigate and understand the complex world around us and inside us is invaluable in my opinion.
What advice would you give a future Kultural Kurators as they think about working in this field?
Global Education is a field that can fit anyone's needs. Yes, it focuses on the global aspect of education, but like any other field it is a mini-universe that anyone can enter and suit their strengths to and grow from. The one thing to be open to is the diversity of perspectives and ways of being that are innate to a global space. It will require you to step outside of your comfort zone.
How can others follow you on social media, website, and/or is there an email address that you'd like to share?
Please feel free to send me a message on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/rkullar/