Multicultural, multiethnic, mixed-race and geograpically mobile populations (like immigrants, refugees and Third Culture Kids).
BECAUSE EVERYONE SHOULD FEEL LIKE THEY MATTER
PRAISE FOR CULTURS MEDIA
Please tell me you have a subscription to @cultursmag?
@donisimplyalive and her team have curated an extraordinary space for cultural diversity for all of us to feel like we matter.
— @michellefoxlove via Instagram
Interesting views from the panel; but learnt a lot more from the breakdown after looking at the movie; great job guys.
— B. Greene via Facebook,
regarding the Wakanda Forever episodes of the Destinations with Doni podcast
This conversation still lights me up! Thank you for sharing your wisdom with me.
— M. Fox via Facebook,
regarding an appearance on her Healthy, Sexy Nutrition Podcast
PUBLISHER & FOUNDER
Chumba Limo Brooke Martellaro Gregory Moore Donna Musil
CONTRIBUTORS Isis Asare Romita Bulchandani Michelle Fox Diego Murillo
Andrea Bazoin Paulette Bethel Myra Dumapias Hayden Greene
Linda Thomas Brooks Antionette Williams
Culturally Fluid Definitions
n the 21st century, assessing someone’s background from outward appearance isn’t enough as hidden, rather than visual, diversity means people increasingly bring more to the table than meets the eye.
Whether through nationality, travel, race or ethnicity, many straddle culture in myriad ways.
From Cultural Fluidity, to Third Culture Kid, Expat, Third Culture Adult, Cross-Cultural Kid and more, the language to describe our in-between community is of
utmost importance. Knowing the vocabulary creates understanding and deepens our sense of belonging and connections to others with similar experiences. Here’s a quick overview so you can follow along any of our articles with ease:
Cross-Cultural Kid (CCK)
A term coined by author Ruth Van Reken in 2002, is a person who is living, has lived, or meaningfully interacted with two or more cultural environments for a significant period of time during the first 18 years of life. This includes minority individuals living within majority culture.
Adult Cross-Cultural Kid (ACCK)
An adult who grew up as a Cross-Cultural Kid.
Cultural Fluidity/Cultural Mobility
A term coined by Culturs founder Donnyale Ambrosine to characterize hidden diversity created by people who don’t or didn’t grow up in a homogenous cultural environment. Culturally Fluid individuals may straddle nationalities, ethnicities, race or culture. The fluidity created allows understanding between or among their foundational areas of meaningful experience. It also may hinder sense of belonging to any one area.
Children of missionaries who travel to missions domestically or abroad.
Third Culture Kids (TCKs)
Coined by Sociologist Ruth Useem in the 1950s as a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture. The first culture is considered an individual’s passport culture, while the second culture consists of the culture(s) in which the individual has lived. The third culture is a result of the person’s life experience; this is the culture to which they most belong. The third culture often is where individuals feel community with others of similar experience.
Children who moved to various regions within the same country while growing up, often having to re-learn ways of being, especially as regional differences in dress, speech and action are heightened in formative years when it is important to be accepted.
Adult Third Culture Kid (ATCK)
An adult who grew up as a TCK.
Third Culture Adult (TCA)
Coined in 2002 by Psychotherapist Paulette Bethel to signify individuals who travel extensively and are immersed in, or live in global locations after the age of 18 (after identity has been solidified).
Internationally nomadic group not characterized by a parent’s occupation. Displaced from their homeland forcibly or by choice, often having fled for varied reasons — violence, politics, religion, environment, etc. Refugees typically do not return to their origin country.
People who, for varied reasons, immigrate to a country different than their homeland to stay permanently. Many return to their home countries to visit, though some do not.
As defined by Merriam Webster — to leave one’s native country to live elsewhere; which also sometimes means to renounce allegiance to one’s native country.
Children of military who move with parents to different places within or outside of their home country. They often experience other cultures within the confines of a military installation or compound that possesses traits of the home country.
Non-Military Foreign Service
Children traveling with their parents to various countries in non-military government roles, diplomatic corps, civil service, foreign service, etc.
Children whose parents are members of the home country’s political framework while living on foreign soil.
Those who travel expecting differences among intra-international or international culture, however, not immersed in these cultures for extended periods of time, or long enough to integrate local cultural norms as their own.
International Business Kids
Children whose parents work with multinational corporations that take them to faraway lands, often in professional fields surrounding oil, construction and pharmaceuticals.
Described by author Ruth Van Reken in the book “Third Culture Kids,” a borderlander is a citizen of one country that lives close to another. Often the norms, customs and traits of each country’s culture seeps into the other, creating a cultural experience separate from either original culture, while allowing inhabitants keen knowledge and insight into their own culture as well as the other.
People whose family consists of two or more races to which the individual identifies. With race often come cultural norms, slang language and attitudes that can greatly differ. Many multiracial children, though not all, have the unique opportunity to learn norms of all the cultures they comprise.
People whose family consists of two or more cultures to which the individual identifies. Even when belonging to the same race, differences in culture may exist between ethnicities, tribes and other cultural contexts.
ISIS ASARE, a queer, femme, Afrocentric bibliophile, is a multicultural science fiction and fantasy columnist and entrepreneur with a focus on literature. They are the founder of Sistah Scifi (www. sistahscifi.com). Sistah Scifi is the first Black owned bookstore focused on science fiction & fantasy in the United States as validated by the American Booksellers Association.
ANDREA BAZOIN (say “Bah-Zwah”) is a human resilience activator, which means she works with individuals and teams to identify and dismantle the practical and personal barriers that keep them from thriving in our everaccelerating future. Her family ties span the globe and include the U.S., Chile, Argentina, Australia, and France. She currently lives in Colorado, USA with
ROMITA BULCHANDANI a.k.a Glitter Explorer, is a former Fortune 200 leader turned Spiritual Life Coach. She leans in on her 15+ years of leadership experience for Fortune 200 companies like The Walt Disney Company and Marriott International. Romita left the corporate space to conquer her own mental health. She has been traveling (28+ countries) worldwide, exploring mental health from various perspectives. Inspired by her travels, Romita founded Glitter For The Soul to help depleted humans reconnect & master their souls so they can build wealth and change the world.
MICHELLE FOX, Culinary Nutritionist, is a mom, wife, friend, yogi, and community builder. It is her mission to create healthier communities. She teaches busy professionals how to get more nutrition in their bodies and how to have more fun in their home kitchens!
Michelle’s certifications come from New York University, Inner Connection Institute, Arvigo Institute (Belize) and the Academy of Culinary Nutrition (Toronto). She builds healthier communities through teaching culinary nutrition workshops and through community service.
HAYDEN GREENE is a pop culture columnist and director of multicultural affairs and student development at Manhattan College in New York City, U.S.A. Known as Brooklyn’s favorite polymath, he is a prize-winning fine art photographer, voice over talent and Trinidadian from the U.K.
JOHN LIANG is an adult Third Culture Kid who grew up in Guatemala, Costa Rica, U.S.A., Morocco and Egypt before graduating high school. He has a bachelor’s degree in languages from Georgetown University and a master’s in International Policy Studies from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Liang has covered the U.S. military for two decades as a writer and editor for InsideDefense.com, and is also managing editor of Culturs Magazine. He lives in Arlington, Va., U.S.A.
DIANA VEGA is a Third Culture Adult. Born in Mexico and passionate about design, they studied architecture and started a small business after college. Interested in entrepreneurship, Vega moved to Colorado, U.S.A. to earn an MBA at Colorado State University. Now repatriated to Mexico, they are a graphic designer and illustrator for Culturs Magazine.
This is the last of our Year of Latin America.
As we close out
in one* of my homelands, Costa Rica, we also close out the public tribute to my Costa Rican father. You may recall that the year of Latin America is dedicated to his valiant fight against cancer that was cut short by COVID on Easter Morning 2020. Since then, I’ve dedicated myself to intense study of the native language he loved and the land of which he was intensely proud — even though as someone who is darkerskinned, it didn’t always treat him with the dignity he deserved.
I’ve spent the better part of the last two years in Latin America, devoting myself to my South and Central American heritage, and focusing on all the things I intended to do when my dad was here with us. Even in heaven, he inspires me to do better, be better — to live in full color. Which is what I hope this issue does for you.
I truly enjoyed putting together the history and the recipes of the land of my paternal ancestors, taking our team to one of my ancestral homes and sharing just a little of what makes it special with all of you. Please delve into our Destinations with Doni article and CultursCelebrations! food offerings — there was so much we had to continue online! We offer
The year of
everything you need to recreate an authentic dinner party or traditional Costa Rican family breakfast to bring the joy of Pura Vida to your home. There’s even a kit to help you recreate every moment with ease.
We brought that same joy to our coverage of Disney and Marvel’s “Black Panther II: Wakanda Forever” movie and three separate podcasts that bring global perspectives from the African diaspora and Latin America to our interpretation of the film. Check it out on digital to automatically stream the podcast or scan the code in print to listen in.
This issue rounds out nicely with some of our team’s adventures behind-the-scenes in Costa Rica, as well as celebratory fare including the global excitement of the FIFA World Cup; a holiday to remember in
New Orleans, La., U.S.A.; and a Must List that suggests multicultural goodness that you can give to friends and family or treat yourself to this year. And so, so much more!
We hope you revel what will be an annual CELEBRATE edition of our print and digital publications. Go online and see all the additional goodies we’ve curated for you to experience. And drop us a line on social to give us your thoughts — we’ll use your comments to shape an epic global, multicultural content for 2023.
Until then, LIVE IN FULL COLOR,
Founder, Culturs lifestyle network
Editor-in-Chief, Culturs magazine
• In 1890, Costa Ricans held what is considered the first free and honest election in Central America, beginning a tradition for which Costa Rica is renowned.
• In 1987, Pres. Oscar Arias Sanchez was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace for his Central American peace plan.
• Of all the Central American countries, Costa Rica is generally regarded as having the most stable and most democratic government.
• Its 1949 constitution notes a unicameral legislature, fair judicial system, and independent electoral body.
• The constitution abolished Costa Rica’s army, gave women the right to vote and additional social, economic and educational guarantees for citizens.
• The country has a more than 9/10th literacy rate (one of the Western Hemisphere’s highest) and strong educational system from primary grades through university.
WORLD CUP FEVERBy Doni Aldine
ARE YOU READY?
Currently, the world is taken by World Cup fever, which, more like the Olympics,
happens every four years. In the United States, the Superbowl — the championship game of American Football — happens in mere weeks, and it happens every year. But futbol, or soccer as the Yanks call it, is becoming popular even in the U.S.
By the time this holiday issue hits your hands this December, it will be the quarter-finals of the 2023 International Federation of Association Footbal or FIFA World Cup in Qatar. More than 1 billion people around the globe watched FIFA tournament finals in 2014 and 2018. This time around, two of the game’s biggest and brightest players are set to collide in one of the final or semi-final matches: Argentina’s powerhouse Lionel Messi and Portugal’s beloved Cristiano Ronaldo.
No room for mediocrity here. It’s winner-takes-all at this point — there are no ties as we head toward the finals. After 90 minutes of a tie, 30 minutes of extra time are added. If that’s not enough, then it’s down to a penalty “shootout,” where each side takes a shot to the goalkeeper from the penalty spot. The most goals from five tries decides the winner (if the match still is tied after those five tries, the shootout keeps going until one team wins).
And if you’ve searched the internet for some of the goalkeeper blocks - they are sights to behold.
But that’s just one aspect of the raucous excitement of futbol and the passion with which people support their teams. We asked a number of fans around the globe how they prep for a big match. From what they eat to what they wear, and even their “big game” mindset — our responders brought the flavor:
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL SOUTH AMERICA
We eat snacks mostly. Popcorn is very popular and lots of beer! Brazilians are absolutely crazy about football. We simply shut everything down so we all can watch our National Team play every single match. It’s become a tradition. Employers (of most sectors) and schools release their employees and students before the matches start so everybody will be able to watch them. Bars get super crowded and families get together to watch the games. It’s a whole new atmosphere! People do have to pay back those hours after the championship is over, but so what? That’s how passionate we are about the FIFA World Cup.
A fun fact about me is that I started studying English formally in 2011 and my goal was to become articulate enough to interact with foreigners by the 2014 World Cup, which would take place in Brazil. And guess what? I made it! I went to the streets of Sao Paulo with my brother interviewing people from all over the world about their expectations for the matches that year, and also how they felt about visiting my country, since many were here for the first time.
It’s been a while since Brazil won the World Cup for the fifth time. Being the country with the most victories has its burden. We are all thirsty for the sixth trophy. That is all we talk about. I still remember watching our National Team when we won the World Cup back in 2002. Seeing Ronaldinho Gaúcho, Roberto
Carlos, Marcos, Cafú and Ronaldo Fenômeno giving their heart and soul on the pitch was a huge joy for every Brazilian.
This year, our stars are Neymar, Vinicius Júnior, Richarlison and Lucas Paquetá. Many kids love them and look up to them. They aren’t as experienced as our 2002 National Team, but we are positive we can win.
The 20-year fasting has lasted for way too long. Brazilians are ready to win the World Cup once again and remain the country with the most victories in the world. Go Brazil!Domênica das Graças Alves da Silva English Teacher
VANCOUVER, CANADA NORTH AMERICA
Mostly wings and nachos have been my go-to for food.
For me, this World Cup has been super special, seeing Canada return to the big stage after 37
years. The group stage was a roller coaster ride; Argentina losing to Saudi Arabia, Germany getting knocked out, Belgium struggling to score a goal despite having world-class talent like Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard.Krish Kohli Venture Capitalist
ISTANBUL, TURKEY ASIA
If I am home, I watch on my laptop and I love to have dinner or lunch while watching the games.
To be honest, I didn’t follow much but I am a fan of Christiano Ronaldo, and I hope that Portugal would win the World Cup. This year’s tournament is very important in that it’s the last
World Cup for some top players: Messi, Ronaldo, Lewandowski etc. Sometimes I watched in the gym as well, while running, on my phone.
My dream as is that of many football fans, is a final game featuring Argentina vs Portugal — two legends.Abdullah Oğuzhan Ateş Photographer Krish Kohli Vancouver, Canada; North America Abdullah Oğuzhan Ateş, Istanbul , Turkey; Asia
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA
I am a Venezuelan living in Argentina, a country where soccer is very passionate and inevitably infects you with emotion. In this World Cup, each game paralyzes the country. Here, there is no such thing as the most important game; the most important is the next one. Here, you learn to love soccer and I am a foreigner in love with the Argentine team!Raúl Esteves
FRANKFURT, GERMANY EUROPE
When I watch, I need to pick a team that I support and then wear clothes that match the color of their flag. I have blended in with a crowd of Croatians or Italians and the party is so good once that team wins.
I have not watched one single game this year. Finland is yet to qualify for these games and once they do, I’ll be sure to watch. Jokes aside, I normally do watch and especially if the country of a friend of mine is playing or a country where I’m at. Sadly this time I have no comments except that why did Morocco beat Spain?!
Photo in honor of the games taking place in Qatar.
Petronella Willberg Human Resources Solutions Analyst
LUSAKA, ZAMBIA AFRICA
We usually watch the matches around dinner time.
I look forward to the World Cup and enjoy the hype around it. I always root for African teams and look forward to watching Brazil and France play as well. There have been many surprises — Japan’s controversial second goal vs. Spain being one of them. Brazil being knocked out in the quarterfinals by Croatia is also perplexing.
Nakalembo Simwaka Learning Support ProfessionalRaúl Esteves, Buenos Aires, Argentina; South America Nakalembo Simwaka, Lusaka, Zambia; Africa Petronella Willberg, Frankfurt, Germany; Europe Raúl Esteves, Buenos Aires, Argentina; South America
UNITED STATES, NORTH AMERICA
When I’m gearing up to watch a match, I like to make cauliflower “wings” and fruit to keep my anxiety at bay through the intensity of the games. These pair nicely with the jumping and screaming my TV has to endure!
While I don’t follow the World Cup for my passport country, I have had a blast watching the matches of countries that have hosted me. The happiest moment was when Morocco beat Spain a few days ago! I called all my friends in Meknes and we celebrated over the phone. They’ve worked so hard for this recognition.
All in all, the World Cup is the perfect time for me to reconnect with friends and with my loyalty to the cultures I’ve lived in throughout my life.Katie Mitchell
LIMA, PERU SOUTH AMERICA
We eat ceviche and drinks a lot of Beers, dance salsa and play board games. Every time the world cup is On, me, my friends and family we all get together and watch the best games! The world cup for South America is the biggest sport event, where family and friends get together to watch, eat and drink. Every fours years when the world cup is back on, me and family we prepare super spicy ceviche, pop up open some beers and enjoy the game!
Watching the world cup, I feel like I am back in my childhood, feeling the same excitement and asking for the same wishes, that my favourite team will win and that my friends and family can come home for me to cook an extra spicy ceviche and pop open a lot of beers.
Choji Itosu Entrepreneur and Leisure Consultant
For Real time status of the 2023 Fifa World Cup and where to watch, scan here: cultursmag.com/world-cup-feverKatie Mitchell, U.S.A., North America Choji Itosu Lima, Peru; South America
PURA VIDA in Costa Rica
A FITTING NICKNAME
Costa Rica is a highly sought-after destination for vacationers and
retirees from around the globe, possibly because of its wellknown peaceful relations (the country has no Army), diverse, yet mild climate and plethora of things to enjoy. From surfing the Pacific Coast to hiking tropical jungles, relaxing on Caribbean beaches, unique wildlife (sloths anyone?), abundant ecotourism, mountains, Arenal Volcano National Park, urban areas and culture galore, this country provides more than the expatriate haven it’s quickly becoming.
Poised on the Central American isthmus, flanked by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south, this nonisland delivers an island vibe that is “Pura Vida.” Pura Vida, or pure life/simple life, exemplifies the Costa Rican way, and has been part of the country’s vernacular for decades. It’s a great way to say hello, goodbye or wish someone well. It’s also a slogan that is quintessentially Costa Rican.
Costa Ricans are nicknamed Ticos because of their distinctive use of the suffix “-tico” as a diminutive in Spanish. For example, “un poco” or “a little,” in Spanish becomes “un poquito” (a little bit) in the diminutive. In Costa Rica, it would become “un poquitico.” This also is a sweet way to add affection to everyday speech.
Another interesting characteristic of the country is its people and their origins.
According to Britannica.com, nearly four-fifths of Costa Rica’s population is of European descent, giving Costa Rica the largest percentage of Spanish descent in Central America. The next largest group is Mestizos (people of mixed indigenous and European ancestry), who make up close to one-fifth of the
population. There is a small Chinese population, many of whom are also the descendants of imported laborers. Fewer than 1 percent of the populace are indigenous Indian as the population diminished after Spanish conquest, disease and slave-raiding. Those of African ancestry comprise an even smaller percentage and typically live in Limón province on the Caribbean side. Many are descendants of 19th century workers brought from the West Indies to build the Atlantic Railroad and work on banana plantations.
Since Spain’s colonization in the 16th century, Spanish has been the country’s main language; however, in addition to the special use of diminutives, Costa Rican Spanish has a specific national accent.
IntrepidLanguage.com adds that there are five indigenous languages spoken in Costa Rica as part of the Chibcha language family: Cabecar language, Bribri language, Maleku language, Buglere language, and Guaymi language. African decendants in Limón province typically speak Spanish as well as an English Creole similar to Jamaican Patois.
OTHER POLITICAL NOTES:
• The first female vice president in Costa Rica’s history, Victoria Garrón de Doryan, was elected in 1986.
• Thelma Curling Rodríguez was the first Afro-Costa Rican lawmaker, serving from 1982 to 1986.
• Costa Rica elected its first female president, Laura Chinchilla, in 2010.
POLITICS AND CULTURE
According to The Washington Post, a desendant of Jamaican immigrants made history by becoming the country’s first female Black Vice President. Economist and longtime politician Epsy Campbell Barr became the first Afro-Costa Rican to be elected to that office in April, 2017.
This African diasporic history is important, as it is said to have brought techniques for one of the country’s most beloved food items: Plantains.
A FAVORED FOOD
The New York Times calls plantain a staple dish throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, with savory tostones (pronounced TOH-STON-EHS) being crisp, flattened double-fried green plantains that are often served as appetizers and side dishes. Savory patacones ( pronounced PA-TAHCO-NEHS) are another variation, typically cut in larger pieces and
boiled first, allowing the resulting cake to be two or three times larger than tostones when smashed (usually with a plate), then fried.
Some Latin countries use the terms “tostones” and “patacones” interchangably, though it’s said the word tostón is used in Spain as slang for money and also to describe other types of fried or toasted foods. In colonial times, a Spanish coin was called a Toston, and many argue that the food (plural = tostones) resembles the size, shape and look of a coin during that period.
Sweet maduros, or ripe plantain, shows in the skin before peeling, as it becomes yellow or black the more it ripens (“maduro” means “ripe” in Spanish) and often are cut on a diagonal for pan frying.
Like bananas, plantains develop more sugar as time passes. New York Times Cooking suggests that for the sweetest maduros, use blackened plantains as they have the most sugar and will yield a more caramelized result when pan fried.
Turn the page to dig into more Costa Rican food fare in CultursCELEBRATIONS!
In this edition of CultursCELEBRATIONS! we provide authentic recipes from hospitality expert Diego Morillo’s team in Costa Rica to re-create a brunch to remember as well as healthful versions of traditional Costa Rican fare with Culinary Nutritionist Michelle Fox.
Make sure to continue online and in our digital edition to get the full menu with all recipes, plus invitations and more to make a memorable gathering around authentic cultural foods. Scan the QR code for more: cultursmag.com/costa-rica-destinations-with-doni/Diego Murillo Michelle Fox
ach issue, we visit a country to bring you the sights, sounds and flavor of the local culture. With Culturs Celebrations, we create a Dinner Party Kit for 10 to make it easy for you to join the party and invite your friends and family. Get festive with us!
Fry about 5 minutes or until light golden.
Remove from oil with slotted spoon.
Using a large spoon, bottom of a glass jar, or tostonera, flatten fried plantain pieces. If you like them thin and crispy like chips, flatten to about ¼ inch (0.5 cm). For a creamier middle with crispy edges, don’t make as flat.
Carefully place flattened fried plantain into heated oil for a second fry until golden on both sides (about 5 minutes).
Sprinkle with sea salt to taste and serve immediately. Best when fresh.
LOCAL BAKED OMELETTE
1. 2 butter spoons 2. 1/2 chopped onion 3. 1/2 sweet chili chopped 4. 1 cup of cooked chopped ham 5. 8 eggs 6. 1/4 cup of milk 7. 1/2 cup cheddar cheese 8. Salt and pepper to taste 9. 3 pieces of bacon per person
Preheat oven to 375 F° (175 C°). Grease a 10-inch round baking dish.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and cook and stir the onion and bell pepper until soft, about 5 minutes. 02 03
Add the ham and continue cooking until heated through, approximately 5 minutes.
Beat the eggs and milk in a large bowl. Add cheddar cheese and ham mixture, season with salt and pepper. 04 05
Pour the mixture into a prepared baking dish. 06
Bake in a preheated oven until the eggs are golden and puffed up, about 25 minutes. Serve hot. 07
Heat a heavy pan over medium high heat.
Season fish on both sides with sea salt, garlic powder and pepper. Lightly dredge fish in arrowroot flour and shake off excess. When the pan is hot, add coconut oil.
Place fish in pan and jiggle pan for the first 10 seconds to keep the fish from sticking. Cook until golden crust forms on meat and add more coconut oil if necessary.
Carefully turn fish away from you and again jiggle pan for the first few seconds. Cook until the second side turns golden brown as well — about 4 minutes.
Using your spatula, move from pan to a paper towel-lined plate and squeeze lemon juice on top. Let cool for at least 2 minutes.
To hear complete silence in a movie, not once, but twice, is unheard of. That is ALL you need to know to tell you the way this movie struck a chord.Illustration Diana Vega
MARVEL’S ‘BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER’ AND ITS EFFECT ON THE AFRICAN DIASPORABy Hayden Greene
To hear complete silence in a movie, not once, but twice, is unheard of. That is ALL you need to know to tell you the way this movie struck a chord.
(Queen Ramonda), Tenoch Huerta (Namor) and Danai Gurira (Okoye) among others.
Ihave never been in a movie theater filled with people from the
African Diaspora and heard silence so profound that you could hear a kimoyo bead drop. Why is that important? You need to know something about my folks: We talk in movies. We joke, offer advice, laugh, scream instructions and spout idioms throughout the entire movie. If you are going to a movie with an audience of people of color, be forewarned.
The movie? “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” If you haven’t seen the movie yet and don’t want any spoilers, stop right here and pick this back up after you have experienced the film. If you have seen it, you may want to buy another ticket to see it again after this column.
“Wakanda Forever” is the second installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Black Panther” series. Directed by Ryan Coogler, it picks up the story of the Black Panther and chronicles the state of Wakanda after the death of their king T’Challa, played by the late, great Chadwick Boseman. The movie stars Letitia Wright (Shuri), Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia), Angela Bassett
In this installment, we are introduced to a reimagined Namor who now has issues with Wakanda because they have exposed the existence of vibranium to the rest of the world. As a result, the countries who viewed themselves as world leaders before Wakanda showed them who they really were, are now searching for their own
source of vibranium. This search has led them to Namor and his people’s doorstep through the use of a machine that can detect vibranium.
Namor shows up uninvited to Wakanda and demands that Queen Ramonda and Princess Shuri find and kill the inventor of the machine. In his opinion, it was their fault that anyone thought to look for new vibranium anyway. Shuri and Okoye find the scientist, befriend her, and bring her back to Wakanda.
And that’s when the fight started.
Here is a good place to let you know that this will not be a blow-by-blow analysis of the plot, nor a critique of how closely they followed the comic. To be clear, there are major diversions from the comic version of this storyline but I’m not here for that. You can find dozens of podcasts and articles that will spend hours dissecting each and every plot line twist and whether the costumes are true to their designs in the comics. That’s not what we are about to delve into.
If you want to hear my thoughts on how the director skillfully represented global cultures and shined a light on historical facts so deftly that you may have thought that they were plot inventions, read on.
The overarching theme in the movie was how two rich cultures, both economically and in their values, were pitted against each other after centuries of ignorance of each other’s presence.
BROTHER AGAINST BROTHER
The overarching theme in the movie was how two rich cultures, both economically and in their values, were pitted against each other after centuries of ignorance of each other’s presence. The common denominator for their quarrel was a common adversary and yet, their anger and vitriol were aimed at each other instead of their shared foe. The Wakandans had no idea that the Talokan people even existed and it is not clear that the Talokan people knew of Wakanda’s advancements before their U.N. announcement.
Both of these fictional countries and their people resemble very real civilizations in world history. Coogler and the writers decided to take Namor’s character in a different direction and replaced Atlantis with the Mayan-inspired Talokan. The origin story for Namor’s people depicts a very real conquest of the indigenous people in Central and South America by the Spanish. The decimation of Mayan people by the colonizers is barely documented because, as always, history is written by the victors.
Suffice it to say, the European settlers’ thirst for gold and riches led to atrocities across the continent. We will return to that greed later.
Both of these fictional countries and their people resemble very real civilizations in world history.
Wakanda sits on a continent that was also destroyed by European greed and colonization. Almost every nation on the African continent was colonized by a European nation, mainly the English, the Dutch, the French and Portuguese. In fact, the entire continent was divvied up during the Berlin Conference of 1888 where the world’s powers came together to decide who would get which part of Africa. In the end, only a few nations resisted colonization and among them was Ethiopia. It was one of the richest nations on the continent but when it resisted its attackers, the European nations cut it off
and made it hard for them to thrive, reducing them to one of the poorest nations in the world. We see examples of that practice everywhere there is resistance to colonizers. For instance, in Haiti. Don’t think it was a coincidence that the movie goes to that island nation too!
In the film, there is a scene where there seems to be a U.N. security council meeting at which the United States and France are
complaining that Wakanda will not sell them their vibranium. They describe it as dangerous and claim that they should be allowed to stockpile it as well. Here comes the greed of already rich nations rearing its head again. It goes against the very grain of their existence to see a nation, especially an African nation, have wealth and power that they did not give to them and render them beholden. It’s the very thing that T’Challa was afraid of in the last movie. Haiti is a great example of this again. What is never
discussed is that Haiti was the richest colony in the Caribbean. When they fought for their freedom, France was so upset about losing their crown jewel that they did everything in their power to cripple the nation. There are no wasted strokes in this movie.
The result of all of this is Wakanda being pitted against Talokan whilst their actual enemy are the nations who would seek to rob them of the very thing that makes them powerful. They both know full well that these outside nations would come in under the guise of trade partners and soon try to wrest control from Namor
The “Black Panther” movies are excellent examples of the growing afro-futurism movement.
and Ramonda’s people, a fact that Ramonda demonstrates by foiling the raid on their facility.
Unfortunately, instead of seeing themselves as allies, war erupts between them and once again disenfranchised people look toward other embattled peoples as the source of the troubles, leaving the true instigators to “escape” scotch-free.
SCIENCE VS. RELIGION
Shuri represents science in this movie and she is constantly being asked to lay it aside to pay homage to the traditions of Wakanda, its religious practices and reverence to the elements. We open on Shuri desperately trying to recreate the heartshaped herb to save her brother T’Challa. She relies on her science and ignores all cues to put it aside to be with her brother in his last moments. This is a theme throughout the movie and is commonplace in the age-old generational fight of science versus religion.
The truth of the matter, in this writer’s opinion, is that religion is the layman’s way of understanding the world around them. Science does the exact same thing. They both seek to explain the same phenomena: life, sickness, death, nature. The argument has been that the two are, and should remain, separate whereas, if looked at together, can
Eventually Shuri gets to the point where she is able to marry the two together. She recognizes that she doesn’t have to forego one for the other and can give each the respect that it deserves.
Today, even though monotheistic religions still believe a singular god was responsible for creating the world, they no longer believe a golden man hitched a burning sun to their chariot and drags it across the sky. That’s religion and science working together.
Eventually Shuri gets to the point where she is able to marry the two together. She recognizes that she doesn’t have to forego one for the other and can give each the respect that it deserves. It’s this realization that finally allows her to see a way to recreate the heart-shaped herb and return the Black Panther to her people.
THE PAST IS THE FUTURE
offer explanations that allow for the mythology to coexist with the science.
Many civilizations created religious practices that explained the world around them and occurrences that they could not wrap their minds around. The changes in weather and seasons became deities for Yoruba and Greek religions. The movement and meaning of the stars were categorized as ancestors and gods by Egyptians and Romans.
Among the clerics in all of these and many other societies existed the scientists, and as the scientists were able to provide answers, the more the religions adapted.
The “Black Panther” movies are excellent examples of the growing afro-futurism movement. The panther and Midnight Angel suits are examples of designers taking the essence of African nations’ cultural representations and weaving them into sci-fi concepts. Shuri’s lab is dripping with it.
That said, to the untrained eye, some of the very traditional cultural representations could quite easily be mistaken for sci-fi creations, made just for the movie. There is a reason for that. Quite often, movie makers would travel to “faraway” lands to gain inspiration for their craft. Their designs may mimic the nature that they observed or the people or what they were wearing. It was easy to adopt these things because the world wasn’t looking at these cultures closely. The practice bled into the science fiction world as well. Look at the Predator movies and tell me that the tendrils on the head of the predator don’t resemble the hair of a rastafarian.
That’s why it would not be unreasonable if you saw the red clay braids of the Himba women or the lip plate of the Mursi people depicted in “Wakanda Forever” (as well as the original “Black Panther” movie) that you would assume they are fabrications of an afro-futuristic mind. And to a certain extent, you would be correct. Young designers are taking their rich cultures and weaving it into this new representation. The Midnight Angels and Nakia’s outfit are great examples of taking the past and casting it into the future.
The result of all of this is Wakanda being pitted against Talokan whilst their actual enemy are the nations who would seek to rob them of the very thing that makes them powerful.
We could go on this journey of exploration even further and talk about:
• The Talokan hand gesture: It’s a direct homage to Mayan paintings. It is also a shark’s mouth. The very same shark jawbone that makes up Namor’s throne. His gesture back to his people is a wide open mouth signifying that he is the king/god who sits in the largest shark jaw.
• Water drums: The entrance to the river tribe in Wakanda is opened by two tribesmen beating on water-filled drums. Troubling water to gain access to rivers is the foundational concept behind the negro
spiritual, “Wade In the Water.” May be reading too much into it here but this is a smart movie — don’t think there are any throwaway scenes.
• Artificial intelligence: Shuri states that her A.I. does what it is told and there is no possibility of it growing sentient. Two words to that end: Marvel Characters Ultron and Vision.
• Toussaint: The biggest moment of the movie comes at the very end in a salute to Chadwick Boseman and Toussaint L’Ouverture.
L’Overture was a Haitian revolutionary and led his people to freedom. This revolutionary’s first name is young T’Challa’s Haitian name and the scene where he declares his Wakandan name hits like a brick. The corollary between who the young prince will become and who Toussaint was is deep. There was not a dry eye in the theater after the scene. I can neither confirm nor deny that I shed a tear as I wrote this description of it.
• LGBTQ reppin’: In Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Black Panther” comic run, Ayo and Aneka, the Midnight Angels, are in a relationship. Disney, Marvel’s parent company, could have shied away from even
touching the subject but they stayed true to the text and showed an LGBTQ relationship. Moreover, it was normalized without unnecessary fanfare. I was impressed.
This movie had so much to deliver after the success of the last Black Panther movie and the death of Chadwick Boseman. In my opinion, it nailed it and allowed the MCU a place to grow with these characters. I think I speak for the masses of “Black Panther” fans when I say, we thank Mr. Coogler for this masterpiece and wait with bated breath for what’s next.
Until then, I leave you the way I brought you in. With silence.
Just Under The Surface looks at media offerings and peels back the surface layer to dig into some of the hidden messages in those projects. We look at cultural references, historical inferences, and hidden messages in film, TV and sometimes music.
Scan the QR code below to read more and experience our Three Part Wakanda Forever Review Podcasts. cultursmag.com/destinations-with-doni-impressions
Awards celebrate the best and brightest of our in-between community. From Third Culture Kids and Military B.R.A.T.s, to immigrants, mixedrace, multi-ethnic and Expats, we want to uplift and amplify the
NEURODIVERSITY IS THE SECRET FOR MANY TO ACHIEVE GREAT THINGSBy Glitter Explorer
What do Billie Eilish, Solange Knowles, Cher and
Simone Biles have in common? They are all neurodivergent.
UNPACKING THE TERM NEURODIVERGENT
Dr. Jennifer Farmer breaks down the word neurodivergent in the simplest way: “Neuro is the brain function and brain component. Divergent is that difference in diversity.”
In short, it’s people who are wired differently.
People who identify as neurodivergent typically have one or more of the conditions listed below:
• Autism spectrum disorder (this includes what was once known as Asperger’s syndrome)
• Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
• Down syndrome
• Dyscalculia (difficulty with math)
• Dysgraphia (difficulty with writing)
• Dyslexia (difficulty with reading)
• Dyspraxia (difficulty with coordination)
• Intellectual disabilities
• Mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, obsessivecompulsive disorder and more
• Prader-Willi syndrome (a rare genetic disorder In infancy, characterized by weak muscle tone, feeding difficulties, poor growth, and delayed development)
• Sensory processing disorders
• Social anxiety (a specific type of anxiety disorder)
• Tourette syndrome (a condition of the nervous system that causes people to make sudden twitches, movements, or repetitive sounds)
• Williams syndrome (characterized by a number of symptoms including developmental delays and learning disorders)
Neurodiversity is respecting all ways of thinking and processing information.
MAKING HOLLYWOOD AND THE OLYMPICS NEURODIVERSE
Neurodiversity is not widely spoken of when discussing diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Some believe neurodiversity is the secret ingredient for an innovative business and colorful life.
When neurodivergent humans are given the right tools, they can use their skills to achieve great things. According to Deloitte, “Research suggests that teams with neurodivergent professionals in some roles can be 30% more productive than those without them. Inclusion and integration of neurodivergent professionals can also boost team morale.”
Dr. Jennifer Farmer, Special Education Director, gave a great example, “You can be situationally different … if I have a mask and I have what’s called Dyscalculia (difficulty understanding math or numbers), and I’m handed over a calculator, then I’m no longer disabled.”
Organically we are all wired differently as a collective. We learn how to operate in our environment based on our organic way of thinking. Society conditions us to mold our thoughts based on norms deemed “the right way,” but is it really the
It’s estimated that over 30% of the population is neurodivergent.
best way to think as unique individuals? How can we be creative and innovative if we all think the same?
Remember that famous slogan by Apple, “Think Different.” It’s been rumored for years that the late Steve Jobs was also neurodivergent. We are surrounded by amazing, talented, neurodivergent humans that have inspired and moved us in many ways.
Academy Award winner, actor and producer Brad Pitt recently opened up to GQ Magazine about his unofficial self-diagnosis of prosopagnosia. Also known as facial blindness, it is the inability to recognize people’s faces.
Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles has been open about her ADHD on Twitter. Also, U.S. singer, actress and producer Solange Knowles was diagnosed with ADHD twice. Knowles didn’t believe her doctor the first time. “The symptoms seem to apply to everyone around me in the industry. Loss of memory, starting something and not finishing it.”
Salma Hayek, a MexicanAmerican actress and producer, opened up to Oprah Winfrey about being dyslexic: “I came here and I didn’t speak English, I didn’t have a green card, I didn’t know I had to have an agent, I couldn’t drive, I was dyslexic.”
UNPACKING THE TERM NEURODIVERSITY
According to the Smithsonian Science Education Center, no two snowflakes are alike: “Although snowflakes are all the same on an atomic level, it is almost impossible for two snowflakes to form complicated designs in exactly the same way.”
Harvard Health Publishing defines neurodiversity as “the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways. There is no one “right” way of thinking, learning and behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits.”
Neurodiversity is respecting all ways of thinking and processing information. Giving humans space to be their best selves without judgment or shame. Building a strong community of snowflakes where we all feel psychologically safe to be our authentic selves.
HUMANIZING THE DIAGNOSIS AND SCIENTIFIC LABELS
Let’s be honest, using terms like neurodivergent and neurodiversity can add unnecessary weight to a conversation.
Rhapsodi Pierre-Jacques, founder of Career SWAG Co., helps high-achieving professionals and founders of Black and Latin backgrounds who identify as introverted, highly
A snowflake is one of God’s most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together.
sensitive, and/or neurodivergent thrive in professional environments that weren’t designed with their minds in mind. She explained how the pandemic “has precipitated this more human-centric approach to leadership, like, hey, bring your whole self to work.”
Unfortunately, for “people who are neurodivergent or identify as having these intersectional identities, they still have to hide those because it’s seen as it has a lot of negative stereotypes associated with it.”
Being “officially” diagnosed creates negative stereotypes in many cultures and societies. It’s
estimated that over 30% of the population is neurodivergent. It’s hard to quote an exact number because so many hide their gift out of shame and are scared to disclose it.
MY ADHD STORY
I am part of that undisclosed percentage. I have ADHD and have never been “officially” diagnosed. Since I was a kid, I’ve always known I was different. My teachers wanted to get me tested, and my parents refused. They did not want ADHD documented on my school record. My parents feared it would hurt me in the future. As a brown girl in a predominantly white community, I already had more obstacles than my classmates. Refusing to add an official diagnosis of any kind was my parents’ way of protecting me.
By the time I was an adult, I had to learn workarounds for my ADHD. Growing up, I didn’t have support or tools to help me figure out how my brain was wired. I learned through trial and error what worked best for me.
Learning how to manage my energy was my biggest and hardest lesson. For example, having a day with back-to-back meetings was very draining. It took a lot of energy to stay focused because my mind would be all over the place. Halfway through the day, I would be wiped and no longer productive. Eventually, I learned how to create boundaries and manage
Growing up, I didn’t have support or tools to help me figure out how my brain was wired.
my schedule so my days wouldn’t end in an energetic deficit. It took time, and it was a battle I told no one about because of shame.
BRINGING TRAUMA INTO THE FOLD
Rhapsodi Pierre-Jacques brought up another excellent point in our interview: trauma’s effect on our neurological system. Trauma also affects how we process information. For someone who is already neurodivergent, this can affect them differently. I’ve yet to meet someone who has not experienced trauma at some point in their life.
If trauma can change our brains neurologically, does that make us all neurodivergent? Maybe that makes us all human.
WHERE CAN YOU LEARN MORE?
There are a lot of great and bad resources out there on neurodivergence and neurodiversity. Trust, but verify. Who is writing it? What’s the intention of the resource?
What sources are being used to back the information?
Below are vetted resources to help you learn more from various perspectives.
• Chadd Organization (chadd.org)
• Introvert, Dear (introvertdear.com)
• ADDitude Magazine (www.additudemag.com/)
• Stanford Neurodiversity Project (med.stanford.edu/ neurodiversity.html)
• Yale Center For Dyslexia & Creativity (www.dyslexia.yale.edu)
• Book: Neurodiversity: The Birth of an Idea by Judy Singer
• Book: Inclusive Design for a Digital World: Designing with Accessibility in Mind by Regine M. Gilbert
• Book: The Highly Sensitive Person, by Dr. Elaine Aron
As Dr. Jennifer Farmer beautifully explained 60 years ago, there was a misconception that not everyone was educatable. Today, everyone can be educated. Working is a human right. Education is a civil right. How can we make sure that not only does everyone in society have access to education but to work as well?
Finally, the best way to learn how humans are wired is by talking to other humans and exchanging “I” stories. This method humanizes those big scientific terms and makes them relatable. We are all wired perfectly and beautifully built.
In the next 30 days, I challenge you to speak to two humans of your choosing about being neurodivergent and embracing neurodiversity. Check out at least two of the above resources and share the knowledge by passing them on to someone in your community.
There are a lot of great and bad resources out there on neurodivergence and neurodiversity.
To access the links mentioned in this article, scan the QR code below. cultursmag.com/neurodiversity-is-the-secret/
Learning how to be a blended LaRon and U.S.-Chinese Family: Mia Kampka
For LaRon and Mia Kampka, blending their U.S. and Chinese cultures has
been a labor of love.
The couple met three years ago in Rome, Italy.
“She was actually a friend of my mom’s,” LaRon, a videographer, says. “They had met online and she was interested in our travel itinerary that I had actually put together for our family. I love travel as well as just having an idea of what I’m going to do once I get to wherever I’m going, instead of just kind of flying by the seat of my pants.”
About a year later, LaRon found out Mia was in the United States and single. They started dating, “one thing led to another,” he says, their son was born and they were married a year after that.
Mia, a photographer, is also a travel lover. When she lived in China, she was working for IBM, a job that required nearly 200 days of travel per year, something she didn’t mind.
Even in her off time, she would use every vacation day she could to go to a new country.
“I have to be honest, my dream was traveling the world before I met him,” Mia, an avid outdoorswoman, says of LaRon. “So my dream was traveling all around the world, climbing all the Seven Summits. I just like to try different things.”
Mia has been in the United States since January 2020, when she came over for surgery to heal injuries to her legs from previous climbing and skiing trips. IBM had given her a four-month paid medical leave, and while she was in the U.S., the COVID pandemic began. Since she couldn’t go back to China, her company offered her a severance check, which she accepted.
LEARNING A NEW CULTURE
Living in the United States full-time (as opposed to just visiting) has brought Mia its own highs and lows. She loves the work-life balance she found when she came to the U.S.
“Here, people enjoy life,” she says. “People can tell you, ‘I’m on my vacation and don’t bother me.’ You literally can say that. In China, it’s a different culture. We always work.”
At the same time, living in the United States after growing up in Chungqing, China pretty much all her life has had Mia essentially taking a hands-on crash course on all things U.S. culture: “I’m still learning the cultural differences because from where I come from,
people barely say or show love. People will hide inside.”
Whereas in the United States, “people are always showing love or hug each other or help each other. It’s kinda different,” she says.
The couple recently celebrated their first anniversary, and their son is nearly two years old.
For LaRon, who grew up in the United States, living with someone not from his birth country had been an eye-opener as well.
“I feel like the Chinese culture, there’s a lot more assertiveness toward achieving goals and being very direct and Americans, we can be a little ‘foo foo’ about things before we actually get to what we’re trying to achieve or what we’re trying to address,” he says. “We kind of try to set the table first, and make sure that everything is copacetic.”
Since Mia is so well traveled, LaRon says she isn’t a very rigid person as far as her thought process is concerned.
“She is super open to new concepts and understanding things and has totally taught me a lot of new things, like as far as how to think about things in a way that you wouldn’t normally think about them in order to achieve your goal,” he says.
“And sometimes you don’t have to go through something, you can go over it or under, you know? Through a different direction. So I really appreciate that new perspective,” he adds.
RAISING A BILINGUAL KAMPKA CHILD
The San Diego, Calif., U.S.A.based couple is raising their 2-year-old son Joseph to be bilingual. They recently enrolled him into the only Chinese bilingual preschool in San Diego.
“Joseph absorbs a lot, way, way more than I do,” LaRon says. “He’s definitely at this age and recites pretty much everything his mom says to him back in English and in Chinese, which is super impressive in my opinion. I mean, I’m still learning to count to three” in Mandarin.
Whereas Joseph “can count to 10 already,” Mia adds.
“I think that’s why we choose our partners that we choose in life,” LaRon says. “Because they give us a fresh set of eyes and they can probably show us some things that maybe we didn’t really think about too much beforehand.”
I think that’s why we choose our partners that we choose in life,” LaRon says. “Because they give us a fresh set of eyes and they can probably show us some things that maybe we didn’t really think about too much beforehand.
LEARNING SMALL TALK
Since they both work on their photography business, LaRon says Mia is learning a lot just from dealing with their clients.
“The etiquette of doing business in the United States, like she said earlier, is very different than the etiquette of doing business in Asia,” he says. “It’s kinda like you have to warm up to people more in the United States where in Asia, like she said, it’s like you just cut to the point. And sometimes I have to remind Mia to try to at least, like, warm up in conversation.”
That said, it’s gotten to the point now that LaRon says Mia has gotten better than him at the whole small talk thing.
“I listen to her on calls when we’re doing consultations for a lot of our customers and I’m amazed at how great she is at consulting with people and sharing information and getting to really know and personify and just, you know, get close to people,” he says.
As for what the future brings, “I think in the next five years, it’d be nice to just have more people be a part of our organization who have the same mindset, who want to be invested in and have equity as well,” LaRon says. “I came from a company where I gave a lot of sweat equity, but was never given equity and I told myself if I ever had somebody working for me, I would definitely want them to have a portion or part of that if that’s something that they were interested in.”
To learn more about Mia and LaRon Kampka’s photography, scan the QR code below. cultursmag.com/learning-how-to-be-a-blended
my cultural holiday tradition
ike many in the U.S., I have been watching cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies.
’Tis the season of L
Yes, I readily admit I am among the millions who tune
into these formulaic films, especially now that they and other networks are introducing more BIPOC characters and storylines. These are usually set in small towns and include light-hearted romance, Christmas traditions and a keen sense of community spirit.
Watching these movies typically gets me reminiscing about holiday traditions I experienced in my childhood. Though I certainly am not from a small town, and many of the traditions in these movies do not mirror my experiences, the emotions they evoke are truly universal. For me,
holidays in my family were always amongst the most memorable times in my life. Perhaps it’s because these memories hold some of the happiest times of my life growing up. These experiences are very much woven into who I am today.
I still love being connected through family, community and culture-based celebrations, especially holiday celebrations. I like to think of it as harkening back to a time in my life when family was at the center of time spent together — siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and a plethora of fictive relatives. I do miss those wonderful times of growing up in my New Orleans hometown, a place replete with celebrations and unique traditions strongly influenced through a history of cultural blending and a love of revelry. I love holding onto these memories.
According to nostalgia expert Krystine Batcho, PhD, people feel more nostalgic during the holidays because many memories are reawakened and relationships renewed. During the holidays, families and friends get together to celebrate and reconnect; they get caught up on one another’s lives, reminisce and browse through old photographs. Even from afar, friends and relatives get back in touch with phone calls, letters, greeting cards and posts on social networking sites.
According to nostalgia expert Krystine Batcho, PhD, people feel more nostalgic during the holidays because many memories are reawakened and relationships renewed.
For many, holidays bring back memories of simpler times along with the sense of the security of childhood or the carefree feelings of being young, with few of the worries and stress that accompany responsibilities. Most often, holidays remind us of people who have played important roles in our lives and the activities we shared with them.
Batcho’s description certainly resonates with me. I love to share my favorite holiday activities and stories with anyone who will listen. In this article, I will share a glimpse of one of my favorite childhood memories derived
from our French-Creole cultural tradition, with benchmarks rooted in a Latin-based society, strong family ties and Catholicism.
Amongst my most vivid recollections of holidays while growing up was witnessing my parents, especially my Dad, preparing for his annual réveillon celebration at our home on Christmas Eve. Maybe it’s just all nostalgia, but for me this occasion always felt so grand and luxurious.
Moreso, what makes it a special memory is that our home was not exceptionally large and we were far from wealthy, yet he made a point of opening our doors for a holiday visit from family, friends and their neighbors. Family and friends merrily chatting and laughing and the smell of aromas wafting from kitchens — I don’t think that I have a strong childhood memory that doesn’t include these things — something that I will forever cherish.
The word “Réveillon” (from réveiller, to awaken) was originally used in France hundreds of years ago to describe this early breakfast following Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. This tradition, nearly always in a private home, continued in the United States, in Louisiana. After a cold December night, the
The word “Réveillon” (from réveiller, to awaken) was originally used in France hundreds of years ago to describe this early breakfast following Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.
réveillon meal served to warm and enliven not only the adults, but the older children who were allowed to join them at church.
It was an honor for someone outside the family to be invited for the réveillon meal, which was usually restricted to only the closest friends. Réveillon is also observed in Belgium, Brazil, in several provinces in Canada and in my hometown city of New Orleans, due to its strong FrenchCreole heritage and in other French-speaking locations In the United States. In Portugal, réveillon is typically observed on New Year’s Eve.
For New Orleans, this tradition dates to the mid-1800s when the city was almost entirely Catholic. As with France, virtually everyone in the community would participate in these réveillon ceremonies. Early on, families would return from Midnight Mass famished and set upon a family feast prepared in advance and laid out on the table or sideboard.
It is generally known in local circles that people in New Orleans go all-out for different celebrations and especially at Christmas. My parents and other family members were no exception to these practices.
In advance of Christmas Eve, my mother would pull out her cherished glassware handed down from her grandmother and bring out silverware, both hers and borrowed from other family members. I still recall her, me and several of my siblings gathered around the table helping to polish the silver.
In something akin to a production line, she would have several polishing cloths, her cleaning solution and toothpicks available for us to work in small crevices and tight spots in the silverware. We would work for what felt like hours, and the polishing was not done until she could clearly see the light and her reflection in the silver pieces.
While my Mother mostly focused on getting our home prepared, it was my Dad who oversaw advanced planning of his feast and decision-making about which traditional cocktails would be served.
Each year, he would order fruitcakes made by the Sisters of the Holy Family, a Catholic religious order of BIPOC nuns founded in New Orleans in 1837. He would douse them in rum or brandy and let them sit aging in their tins for months until his
event. He usually baked several other cakes (his coconut cake being my favorite). I do recall a time or two when their budget would allow him to splurge on purchasing a traditional French yule log.
On Christmas Eve, he would allow me to join him in the kitchen as he prepared his feast that included laying out a spread featuring bountiful bowls of fruits and nuts scattered around our living and dining room. He would set up his bar for the
evening and prepare trays of hors d’oeuvres including shrimp cocktails, paté de foie grass, crackers and slices of French bread to go along with his legendary creole oyster soup that was to die for.
I loved his oyster soup. I don’t think that I have ever tried a recipe anywhere that rivaled his version.
The most anticipated part of the evening for me and others was his thick, creamy homemade eggnog, topped with frothy whipped egg whites doused with a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg on top. There was always rum and whiskey on the side for those adults who imbibed.
Beginning when I was a preteen, my parents would allow me to stay up late to attend Midnight Mass and participate in their réveillon celebration. When it was time, my parents would chase me out of the kitchen to go get ready for late-night Mass.
There would always be a beautiful new Christmas dress, socks and shoes waiting, along with a hat or mantilla head covering, as required in those days. When I heard the church bells tolling, I always knew two things were imminent: the first was that it was time to head to
It’s been a multitude of years since I have hosted a réveillon in my own home. Maybe its time that I resurrected this beloved tradition.
the church for an enchanting, seemingly holier high mass Christmas service.
The other was my building excitement knowing that when we returned home, the entertainment of family and friends streaming through our home would begin, before they headed to their homes to finish their own holiday preparations.
For me, the joy of the réveillon was what I now realize — our family tradition was really about the awakening of spirit and celebrating with family and
friends all the symbolism that the holiday season brings. What better way to share in this joy than through food and kinship. Though this tradition was dying off following World War II, the New Orleans restaurant scene resurrected the Réveillon practice in the 1990s. It’s been a multitude of years since I have hosted a réveillon in my own home. Maybe its time that I resurrected this beloved tradition.
For more about this tradition, including an oyster recipe much like the author’s father’s, scan the QR code. cultursmag.com/tis-the-season-of-reveillon
From shows to watch and songs to hear, to artistry, shopping and things to explore, know and do, here’s a specially curated list of things we recommend as MUST experience items for the culturally fluid.
Kim Hairston on
For songwriter and lyricist Kim Hairston, working in the music
industry isn’t something that’s been a lifelong career.
In fact, the 61-year-old only began writing lyrics professionally about eight years ago. Before that, she had (and still owns) her own web design business. But music has been around nearly all her life.
Hairston’s mother was a piano teacher and she got her into classical music.
“I used to play the piano and classical guilds, those are contests where you play your special piece and the judges judge you,” she says.
Some of her early inspiration is old school — Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross and the like.
Hairston, who lives in Colorado Springs, Colo., U.S.A., considers herself a “background listener of music,” in that “I’ll listen to a song and I’ll pick out every single instrument in the song — when they flow in and out, when certain instruments come in and out of the song — it’s just something that I started doing at a young age.”
That young age also had her moving around a lot as a Military B.R.A.T. due to her father’s career in the U.S. Army.
“We traveled to Germany and Austria and of course all over the United States and we settled here in Colorado Springs,” she says.
Hairston has been writing poetry for as long as she could remember.
“I would do it in class when I was in junior high school and high school,” she says. “I still have books and books of poems but about eight years ago, I was
I’ll listen to a song and I’ll pick out every single instrument in the song — when they flow in and out, when certain instruments come in and out of the song — it’s just something that I started doing at a young age.
like, I wonder what it would be like to go into a music studio and put some of my poems to music.”
When she asked a friend to look at her poems, that friend noted her poetry had a “lyrical” tone.
“And I was like, ‘Oh’ and she was like, ‘Yeah you should go in the studio sometime.’ And I did,” according to Hairston.
Hairston says she was in Denver, Colo. at the time and her daughter was getting ready to graduate from college.
“I called the Spot Studios up there and I talked to Glenn Sawyer, who was a producer,” she says, adding: “He was like, ‘Yeah
come on in, let’s talk.’ And he looked at some of my lyrics and it was like, ‘Yeah you know I know someone, his name is Mawule and let me connect you with him and see if you guys can work something out.’”
Not soon after, Hairston’s debut song came out, titled “What Love Doesn’t Look Like” and it featured Mawule on vocals.
“After that moment, I was like, this is what I want to do,” she says. “I started going back to Spot Studios, my daughter graduated from college and we moved back to Colorado Springs. We had to move back to Colorado Springs anyway because my mom was not doing well at that time.”
While Hairston’s mother passed away several years later, she did get to hear her daughter’s debut album.
“I am so incredibly blessed that she got to hear my debut song come out; it got on the radio fortunately,” Hairston says.
That debut song led to more work with producers like Jarrod Headly, Tony Mirabella and Egar Boi. Not only that, in addition to Mawule, Hairston has had the opportunity to work with other major Afrobeat and Afro Gospel singers in Nigeria.
MORE COLLABORATIONS WITH NIGERIAN ARTISTS
That debut song led to more work with producers like Jarrod Headly, Tony Mirabella and Egar Boi.
Not only that, in addition to Mawule, Hairston has had the opportunity to work with other major Afrobeat and Afro Gospel singers in Nigeria.
It all started with her waking up at the same time every night and writing down lyrics.
“I started writing these lyrics over and over and I wrote a song called ‘Walk by Faith,’” she says. The song made her think it would be best performed with an Afrobeat.
“I started looking up different Afro gospel artists and I came across a man called Quiz the Great,” she says. “And I’m a firm believer [in] ‘You don’t ask, you don’t get.’”
Consequently, Hairston reached out to Quiz the Great, who lives thousands of miles away in Nigeria.
“Seven thousand miles away we connected,” she says. Within a month, the song was fully written, produced and released.
“I want this to be an inspiration that you are never too old to follow your dreams. Age is just a number,” she says.
When Hairston thought up another song, she got a hold of Quiz again.
“And he’s like, ‘You know what? Let me get somebody on this with us,’ and his name was Miracle Paul,” she says. “And he was just signed to a record label. And I said ‘sure.’ So another song came out and it was called ‘Your Blessing.’”
About a month later, Hairston wrote another tune called “New Chapter,” and she collaborated with Quiz, Miracle Paul and Missionary Souljah to put the song together.
That third song culminated in a trilogy called “The Faith Project,” according to Hairston.
“It’s absolutely insane at this point. I’m on my fifth song. I’m getting a different artist getting a hold of me to do songs. And it’s absolutely been amazing,” she says.
For Hairston, Afrobeat music has a special place in her heart.
“It’s soulful,” she says. “It gets us soulful. And it’s Christ-driven, it’s Holy Spirit-driven, It’s meaningful.”
At 61 years old and with a bunch more published songs under her belt, Hairston doesn’t see herself slowing down anytime soon.
“I want this to be an inspiration that you are never too old to follow your dreams. Age is just a number,” she says.
To learn more about Kim Hairston’s music, scan the QR code below. cultursmag.com/kim-hairston
Shows the harsh realities of living by the border
The Tohono O’odham Nation spans both sides of the U.S. and
Mexico. The Sonoran Desert hits triple-digit (Fahrenheit) temperatures in the summer months, and thousands of migrants travel through these lands.
Due to the dangerous conditions, according to U.S. Border Patrol data, 7,209 migrants have died while crossing over the last 20 years, although the non-profit organization Border Angeles estimates the toll is higher. Thousands of children have also gone missing.
“Burros,” directed by Jefferson Stein, is the story of a 6-year-old Indigenous girl who discovers a Latina migrant her age who has lost her father while traveling through the Tohono O’odham tribal lands into the United States.
“Burros,” directed by Jefferson Stein, is the story of a 6-year-old Indigenous girl who discovers a Latina migrant her age who has lost her father while traveling through the Tohono O’odham tribal lands into the United States. This topical film qualified for Oscar consideration when it won the Best Live Action Short award at the New York International Children’s Film Festival and has been receiving numerous accolades, including the recent Moonwalker Best Short Award at the Nòt Film Fest.
The live-action short film premiered at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival and won Best Short at Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, Sidewalk Film Festival and Arizona International Film Festival.
“Burros” is produced by Film Independent Spirit Award Winner Liz Cardenas (“7 Days,” “Never Goin’ Back,” “A Ghost Story”) and was awarded a Film Independent fiscal sponsorship. The film was also produced by Russell Shaeffer, Douglas Riggs as well as executive produced by Larry “Bear” Wilson and Camillus Lopez who are members of the Tohono O’odham Nation. The cinematography was shot by Cole Graham.
To learn more about Burros the film, view the trailer and connect to its website, scan the QR code below or visit cultursmag.com/burros
Advancing the sound of Afro-colombian music EXPLOSIÓN NEGRA
The three members of Explosión Negra combine native Colombian sounds like cumbia and buyerengue with modern elements like hip hop, dancehall, reggae, raggamurfy, etc.
Nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Tropical Fusion Album category in 2016, band members Harry, Jommy and Jahir have known each other for nearly two decades, having met in the early 2000s in Medellin, Colombia. Jommy brings the reggae influence, Harry also had the hip hop and Jahir had more of a melodic bent.
DEFINING COLOMBIAN MUSIC
When asked how they define Afro-Colombian music, Jahir thinks it’s a genre that’s open to a lot of exploration and experimentation.
Colombians “are aware of how much variety” of AfroColombian music there is in the country, but it still needs to be explored more, he says, adding: “I see a lot more people accepting it more freely, and thus it’s growing in Colombian music.”
For Harry, Colombia has a great “cultural richness” and a huge variety of music from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic coast.
“You find in all those corners some rich sounds that haven’t had that international visibility,”
When asked how they define Afro-Colombian music, Jahir thinks it’s a genre that’s open to a lot of exploration and experimentation.
he adds. “What we do with our music is incorporate different sounds from different regions of the country, especially Colombian Pacific music which isn’t as well-known. What we do, then, is fuze those traditional sounds with urban sounds and try to give it more of a global feel.”
“We’re always focusing on the different folk rhythms that our country has,” Jommy chimes in.
ADAPTING TO CHANGE
In the two decades the three have known each other, they’ve had to adapt to not only technological changes in how music is made but also to the commercial side.
“Digital platforms have turned into a giant monster where to get any kind of visibility you need to really work hard,” Harry says.
We’re always focusing on the different folk rhythms that our country has
What we do with our music is incorporate different sounds from different regions of the country, especially Colombian Pacific music which isn’t as wellknown. What we do, then, is fuze those traditional sounds with urban sounds and try to give it more of a global feel.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a tremendous effect on the trio, who were touring in the Ivory Coast and were due to travel on to Brazil, then Portugal and the Canary Islands.
“All those gigs fell through because we couldn’t do them,” Harry says. Additionally, they were on the verge of finishing an album, with plans to do a press tour in Colombia but that didn’t happen either.
“For us as artists it was a slow recovery, because the artistic market was one of the slowest to re-open, especially music venues,” he continues. “The recovery’s been slow, but we’re working on it.”
The trio is currently working on a new album that Harry says has “a lot of force and a lot of pump, a lot of roots while keeping the essence of Explosión Negra, but also giving it more evolution and a global feel.”
“We’re convinced that this is our moment,” Jahir says. “We see a future where we’ll be playing our music all over the world.”
Scan the QR code for more info about Explosión Negra. cultursmag.com/explosion-negra-advancing
HOW TO MAKE Auntie Ramonda’s WAKANDAN JOLLOF
and other ‘Black Panther’-inspired rice sauces
If you are looking for the official recipe for Auntie Ramonda’s
Wakandan Jollof rice this holiday season, we have you covered.
Marvel has partnered with A Dozen Cousins to launch the official Wakandan Jollof rice seasoning sauce.
The kit is packed with garlic, sea salt and habanero peppers.
A Dozen Cousins founder Ibraheem Basir grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., U.S.A. in a big family that had a kitchen that infused Creole, Caribbean and Latin American cuisine.
In addition to the Jollof Sauce, other Wakandan seasoning sauces include Jamaican Jerk Rice and Coconut Rice.
According to A Dozen Cousins: “Many Caribbean dishes have been shaped and influenced by people of African descent who made this region home. We are taking this opportunity to celebrate a groundbreaking film and honor the impact of the African Diaspora on our favorite foods.”
For more information about A Dozen Cousins and their “Black Panther”-inspired rice sauces, scan the QR code below. cultursmag.com/heres-how-to-make-auntie
We are taking this opportunity to celebrate a groundbreaking film and honor the impact of the African Diaspora on our favorite foods.
‘THE OFFICIAL WAKANDA COOKBOOK’
The book is narrated by a fictional character named Ndi Chikondi, who is credited as the Executive Chef at the Royal Palace of Wakanda. Throughout the story, Chikondi relates how the book’s recipes came about and why they exist as part of Wakandan culture.
To round out your holiday menu, consider “The Official Wakanda Cookbook” by MalawianAmerican chef Nyanyika Banda.
While at the University of Wisconsin Superior, Banda designed her history and writing majors around African Foodways and has been a life-long scholar of the topic ever since.
The collection of recipes, inspired by 50 years of “Black Panther” comics, include everything from sauces and condiments to desserts and drinks. Fans of Marvel’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” will be intrigued to know that Banda’s cookbook features a new character, too.
According to Banda in an interview with marvel.com, the village-style curried chicken is a representation of Wakandan ethos in a pot of stew. The dish is commonly made during the tribal council meetings. The stew takes many hours — almost half a day — to braise, and so the tradition is for the chefs to start it a day before the tribal meetings are set to begin.
Traditionally, in the outdoor kitchens a large cauldron is set over a large fire pit and the stew braises for as long as the meeting takes place. This is why the stew is started far in advance, so that no matter when the consultation ends, there will be a filling bowl of curried meat and sauce over nsima.
When you pick up your copy of “The Official Wakanda Cookbook,” Banda recommends that you also pick up harissa spice mix, carrot ginger dressing and msuzi matmati. Msuzi Matimati is slow cooked tomatoes and spices like cardamom, coriander and cumin.
For more information about “The Official Wakanda Cookbook,” scan the QR code below. cultursmag.com/check-out-the-official-wakanda
TOP 10 TIPS FOR TURBOCHARGING your professional digital nomad lifestyleBy Andrea Bazoin, M.Ed., Founder of everHuman
It’s been called the Great Resignation, the Great Reshuffle, the Great Reinvention, the
Great Reimagination, the Great Digital Reset…
You get the idea — it’s a “Great” Big Change in the way we work, everywhere around the world.
If you’re among the many people who are looking to ditch the 9-to-5 and explore working remotely as a Digital Nomad, then here are my Top 10 Tips to help you get started.
1. GET CLEAR ON YOUR PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY
If the old models of work are changing, then you must change the way you think about your professional identity. This means getting really clear on your unique set of skills, passions, experiences and value that you bring to the world. Your professional identity should be as unique as you are, because old titles like “manager” or “executive” no longer hold meaning in these changing times.
Check out my last piece, “How to Thrive, Both Personally and Professionally, in a Time of Accelerating Change,” to start thinking about your professional identity.
Once you’ve reconsidered your professional title, take the time to update your LinkedIn and social media profiles. As a Digital Nomad, you’ll be leaning heavily on your mobile network. Your online presence should be consistent with your personal brand and professional identity.
Your online presence should be consistent with your personal brand and professional identity.
2. FIND A DIGITAL NOMAD COMMUNITY
A quick Google search reveals there are many great websites that cater to Digital Nomads. Some examples include Digital Nomad World (a truly comprehensive resource), NomadList (excellent for comparing locations) and Digital Nomad Girls (a resource that caters to those who identify as “location-independent women”).
You can also lean into LinkedIn groups such as Remote Workers on LI and Digital Nomads And Location Independent People. Or, search your favorite social media platform using hashtags like
#digitalnomad, #wanderlust, #remotework and #workfromanywhere. Your next roommate or work partner could be one DM away.
3. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
If you’re reading Culturs Magazine, chances are you’ve already got a few couches you could crash on in various locations, at least to get started. Of course, you’ll want to factor in things like cost of living, ease of movement, safety, internet access and the like. Your quality of life will greatly depend on your income compared to your local expenses (and both may be challenging to predict).
NomadTravelTools.com is a fantastic site for comparing your current city to another potential destination including the cost of living, internet speeds, weather, currency conversion and even visa requirements.
Speaking of visas, of course you’ll need a visa to enter your country of choice. Nomadgirl.co maintains an updated list of countries now offering Digital Nomad Visas (yup, that’s a thing now). Rules vary by location, so plan ahead.
4. GET TO WORK
Post-pandemic, it is easier than ever to work remotely — and not just as a freelancer or entrepreneur. Companies around the world now recognize the value of trusting their staff to work away from an office. So you don’t have to sacrifice benefits like paid vacation and sick leave, retirement plans or health insurance to be a Digital Nomad.
If you already have a job, start by having a conversation with your supervisor about remote work. In my family’s case, for example, my French-born partner asked his boss if he could work from France each summer, and they said yes! Consequently, our family now gets to spend quality time with relatives and friends that, in the past, we could only see for a few days on our short visits.
If you’ll be looking for a new position or gig, here are just a few great websites for finding remote work:
• LinkedIn Jobs: use this tool to search thousands of remote job postings.
• Flexjobs: the No. 1 site to find vetted, remote work.
• Upwork and Fiverr: both are excellent sites that cater to gig and freelance workers.
5. PROTECT YOUR ASSETS
If you’re working abroad, you’ll need to pay attention to laws in both your home country and your country of residence. It’s critical that you have your ducks in a row before you go.
Manage your banking: You’ll need access to both your personal funds and business accounts (if you’re self-employed). Check out NomadGate, which compares the best personal and business bank accounts for Digital Nomads. Or, talk to your local banker to discuss your options.
Pay your taxes: Don’t think you’re off the hook on taxes just because you’re out of your home country. This could lead to major financial losses in the future. Instead, plan ahead and get the help you need from expat tax services like bright!tax, Greenback, or HR Block.
Create a digital estate plan: You know what they say, “expect
Post-pandemic, it is easier than ever to work remotely.
the best and plan for the worst.” In case of a medical emergency, or worse, your loved ones need to know how to access your most important information like financial assets, liabilities and passwords. This is important no matter what your age or health status. My favorite resource for creating your digital estate plan is Everplans. I’ll also plug my own online course, Triumph Over Technology, which includes an entire module on preparing your digital estate.
6. MAKE A HEALTHCARE PLAN
Even with the rise of telehealth, you’ll want to be sure you know where to access inperson healthcare and how to pay for it. Check with your current healthcare and insurance providers, or purchase a new health insurance plan. TravelingLifestyle.net and LostWithPurpose.com both have tools to compare plans that cater to Digital Nomads.
And be sure you know how to refill important prescriptions, and pack a stash in your carry-on.
7. PREP YOUR TECH
I’ll state the obvious that as a Digital Nomad, you’ll be carrying your office on your back. So don’t skimp on tech. Whether you’re a Mac, PC or even a Google person, be sure you’ve got ample cloud storage and know how to manage it well. Sites like TechRadar, CNet, and DigitalTrends can help you compare laptops and other tech hardware that best meets your needs.
Your mobile device will need to work internationally, without costing you a fortune. I loved certain helpful articles from ExpertVagabond.com and FreedomIsEverything.com, which give detailed advice for using a mobile device abroad. For portable internet access, explore purchasing a Mobile Hotspot like the ones featured in an article from DigitalTrends.com.
you're a Mac, PC or even
a Google person, be sure you've got ample cloud storage and know how to manage it well.
Beyond hardware, you’ll need to install the right programs and apps on your devices. Must-haves include Zoom, WhatsApp and a map app like Google Maps. Check out my previous article, “Travel The World With A Smartphone And A Credit Card,” for more of my favorite travel apps.
8. SET A SCHEDULE
Working as a Digital Nomad requires self-discipline. Remember, you’re working remotely — you’re not on a permanent vacation. To be successful, you have to commit to
Working as a Digital Nomad may be simply a short-term experiment, but consider your longterm life goals.
Just because you decide to work abroad doesn’t mean you should abandon your alreadyestablished relationships.
a work schedule, ensure you’ve got the right work environment (hint: laptops and sand don't mix) and stay flexible when conditions change.
At the time of this writing, for example, I’m sitting at a table at the back of a bar at Les Sablesd’Olonne, France while the rest of my family is out enjoying an afternoon at the beach. The great music and plenty of passersby makes it a bit more challenging to focus, but it’s the only place I can go to with internet access at the moment. So, you know … discipline. Earplugs help.
9. THINK SHORT-TERM AND LONG-TERM
Working as a Digital Nomad may be simply a short-term experiment, but consider your long-term life goals. Making a choice to travel almost always changes the trajectory of your life. You’ll meet new people, discover new cultures and encounter new perspectives.
Want to learn a new language? Seeking to volunteer to serve a cause? Interested in buying property in another country? Imagine the life you want to live in the future so that you’re ready to take advantage of any opportunity and new connection along the way.
10. STAY CONNECTED WITH LOVED ONES
Just because you decide to work abroad doesn’t mean you should abandon your alreadyestablished relationships. In fact, you may start to get lonely if you don’t take the time to nurture those familiar ties.
Here are a few of my favorite tools for keeping in touch:
• Marco Polo: perfect for sending 1-1 asynchronous video messages (which is helpful when it’s 3 a.m. where your best friend lives, and you’d like to send a message now).
• WhatsApp: The No. 1 secure, reliable messaging service, used around the world.
• A private photo album sharing tool such as Google Photos or Apple Photos (so that you can share specific photos with close family and friends, away from social media).
• The mailbox! Don’t forget, hand-written letters, postcards and printed photos will brighten anyone’s day and let
them know you truly care. This is especially true for the older adults and children in your life (who either miss handwritten notes or never get them). Want to be sure you remember their birthdays? Consider scheduling them in advance with Postable.com. And there you have it! My Top 10 Tips for working as a Digital Nomad. So, dear reader, where will your next professional experience take you?
For links to all the websites and resources mentioned in this story, scan the code below. cultursmag.com/top-10-tips-for-turbocharging
Whether gazing the moon and stars at Lac d’Annecy in France, waiting on Argentinian maté to steep in the U.K., sipping on Turkish coffee in Germany, or arriving in Austin for yet another speaking engagement at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Texas, U.S.A., you can count on Roy Wol to be traveling regularly.
I vaguely remember that I ended up coming across a video featuring some international person who had lived in several countries and whose family had high mobility. I vaguely remember this person mentioned this idea of TCK — it was a Eureka moment.
Through that, I ended up finding out about Ruth Van Reken’s Ted Talk which referred to the book about Third Culture Kids. I am not kidding, I felt like I found “Waldo” from “Where’s Waldo,” the perfect TCK character, by the way. This find came with an emotional Pandora’s box: a liberation of existential pain.
CULTURS — In which countries did you grow up in? Which ones impacted you the most?
ASXSW and CAAMFEST awardwinning film producer and director with friends around the world, nomadic Roy Wol gives a
glimpse of his Third Culture background and how it influences his work.
CULTURS — How did you discover you were a TCK?
WOL — I grew up in a home where I had to use words from three languages within one sentence in order to fully express myself. And even with that, I never felt like I was able to. Thanks to internet algorithms, I think some search engine A.I. bot realized I am a Third Culture Kid (TCK)* before I knew I was one through my language patterns or something. It was late at night, at my NYC apartment (which I had only spent six months that year), I was going through one of my existential moments and at some point I got deep into a YouTube wormhole, listening or watching content about cross-culturalism.
WOL — I was born as an inter-sect Jew in Tel Aviv to non-Israeli parents, who happened to meet there as tourists. A first-generation Argentinian, my mother’s parents were from Slavic territories and from Turkey, dad’s parents were from Sephardic/Italian/ Spanish descent. I grew up and lived in Turkey, Canada, U.S.A., Argentina and shortly in Israel and Spain. Honestly, I think all those countries impacted me in many ways and to this day I cannot choose one over another.
*Find definitions for this vocabulary in our glossary on page 8.
It is complicated because growing up as a nonpracticing Jew, the local communities always asked to keep quiet about our backgrounds. There was a complex culture of repression to the extent of cultural imposter syndrome; some people thought I was Armenian and some said that was better. A bubble of cross-cultural community in Turkey consisting of family/friends had the most influence on me while I went through my spiral vortex of multiple identities daily.
Bottom line though: All of the countries mentioned above impacted me quite deeply and still to this day I am not able to choose one over another. Culturally, New York City feels the most home to me, because I’ve never been asked where I am from by New Yorkers and NYC is such a global bubble.
CULTURS — How did your identity as a TCK find its way into your work as a filmmaker?
WOL — I dabbled in the arts of acting for some time, playing a chameleon of identities. This gave me a great foundation of character for what was about to set up my writing, directing and producing journey. In my earlier writing experiences, I explored existentialism and the comedy of alienation. Nevertheless, I often found myself in bridging positions. Thus, I dedicated my work to bridging communities.
We often forget the strength that comes out of deliberate intersectionality. As a TCK, I am an intersectionality advocate in my work. Although I am not transgender, Muslim or American, I had the pleasure of making films about these communities. Why? Because I believe we are more alike than not. We are also very different in many ways, but the nuances of experiences we each hold can’t be boiled down to blanket categories.
I grew up in a home where I had to use words from three languages within one sentence in order to fully express myself.
As a TCK, I carry the burden of privilege of access to many communities because I am from so many. For me, making films is a way of getting to know myself. Additionally, I ran quad-lingual sets where I simultaneously spoke three to four languages. It is fun!
CULTURS — What are some common themes in your work that keep popping up? Why are they recurring themes?
WOL — Hands down the strongest theme that is popping up in my work is this idea of family, and relationships between loved ones or lack thereof. Others include bridging cultures, bridging conflicting communities, immigration, science and technology, one-ness and exploring outliers.
First and foremost, everyone could relate to a family story so that’s a great entry point. But when it comes to deeper thematic explorations, the stories that I make or curate in this world are: glocality, generational and technological divides, humor and mindfulness, classism, racial and gender divides, interracial and intercultural relationships, acceptance, the power of otherness, astronomy and existence.
It’s hard to say why they are recurring. I wish they were not!
CULTURS — I understand that some of your recent successes are “Americanish” and “The Garden Left Behind.” What has that been like?
WOL — Life-changing. With “The Garden Left Behind,” we told a family drama about an undocumented Mexican trans woman which won at SXSW at its world premiere. The film not only got named as one of the top 40 best LGBTQ films of all times by Rotten Tomatoes editorial, certified fresh; it also provided jobs to 48 people from the trans community. I made so many friends through this film and the impact was both critical and personal. With “Americanish,” we told the first AmericanMuslim romcom by diverse American-Muslim women. The film somehow reached several communities in the U.S.A. from the entire AsianAmerican audience circuit to African-American audiences. The film also created impact both behind and in front of the camera.
There was a complex culture of repression to the extent of cultural imposter syndrome;
The challenge with us, the TCKs: Some of us don’t even know we are TCKs till mid-life (or worse, never).
As a TCK, I am proud to say both of these feature fiction films were the first of their kinds and made history. With our production company Studio Autonomous, which has a global cross-cultural think tank, the first film gave us a good foundation on how to create award-worthy and impactful film. The second film allowed us to take everything we learned from the first and make it more accessible to larger audiences.
CULTURS — How did you start as a filmmaker? What made you want get into filmmaking?
WOL — I loved performance, so in my teenhood, writing/directing/acting in plays was the start. At the age of 16, I had the opportunity to intern at a 2D cartoon (cell) animation studio. That experience opened doors to the art of motion pictures. Then I interned in several feature film productions cleaning bathrooms and being yelled at. After studying in Canada, focusing on Dramatic Arts and Film Studies, I found myself interning in Lionsgate films in postproduction. From then on, I quickly realized I wanted to start making films and began making short films.
I wanted to get into storytelling because stories influence people so deeply that without realizing, in the midst of entertainment, our worldviews change. And personally, I never saw someone like me (a TCK) on screen so I decided to become a storyteller to explore myself and others that might also feel unseen or unheard.
CULTURS — Looking back at some of the toughest times as a filmmaker, can you tell us about how you got through it?
WOL — Community of filmmakers, long time artistic partners, family and friends. Those are the only people that can get you through this field. This is a profession of communication and reciprocity. So the best thing you can do is to find your community … soon. The challenge with us, the TCKs: Some of us don’t even know we are TCKs till mid-life (or worse, never). So you might have to ping-pong between many communities for a while till you maybe find your tribe … or tribes!
One of the toughest times I had in my filmmaking was that I was working on this one film for about six to seven years. We finished the film and submitted it to the festivals to rejections. I was ready to throw in the towel in the entire industry.
Since I felt that this was maybe the end of the road for me, I said to my team that I’d be willing to trash 40% of what we shot/edited, re-write scenes and
I wanted to get into storytelling because stories influence people so deeply that without realizing, in the midst of entertainment, our worldviews change.
re-edit the film to make a better one. This was a crazy idea but we did it. The result was not only flipping the rejection by a festival to acceptance, but that we actually won there.
I got through this because of my support system — a strong team. I had others that believed in me so blindly as much as I believed in them. Don’t underestimate the power of belief; surround yourself with smart people that uplift you.
CULTURS — What have you learned as a filmmaker than you’d like to share with other filmmakers who find themselves working in cross-cultural spaces?
WOL — That cross-cultural stories, I believe, are the hardest stories that masses can relate to … for now. For instance, how many biracial stories can you name? Or how many TCK stories? The best example of cross-culturalism I see is in science fiction or fantasy fiction stories.
For nearly 100 years, the film industry has been a top-down experience. We were told what to watch, but as the media business expands beyond the art of film, the audiences have now become the artists. If the idea is to share art and explore themes, forms like film are simply a container to be expanded.
Cross-cultural story treatment, in my opinion, requires an inside-out and outside-in approach. Consider if cross-cultural stories require to be told in a certain format or not. Chances are, cross-culturally hungry audiences will seek out these stories beyond the form of film so I believe the best formats that could explore cross-culturalism is XR, VR and immersive storytelling formats. Instead of competing for story slots in pre-existing media, I suggest expanding the story market by creating stories in new media.
Cross-cultural story treatment, in my opinion, requires an inside-out and outside-in approach.
CULTURS — How do we follow your work? What upcoming projects or work do you have on the horizon?
WOL — Most of my films are available on streamers or on cable TV — some now traveling festivals. The best is to follow me and our company on socials. And for those TCKs that might want to reach out to me personally and get involved, please write to me. I want to help bring more TCK stories to life.
“Americanish” (2021), which Wol worked on as a producer, won Best U.S. Narrative Award at the Phoenix Film Festival (2022), and Best Narrative at the Beloit International Film Festival (2022) and DC Independent Film Festival (2022), among about 20 awards for the film.
“Garden Left Behind” (2019) won the SXSW Audience Award (2019) and Best Screenplay and Best Feature Film at the Sunscreen Film Festival (2019), among around 28 awards.
To learn more about Roy Wol, scan the QR code: cultursmag.com/roy-wol-nomadic-filmmaker