Viewing entries tagged
culture

We Can Learn Much About Our Cultural Divides From “Yanny” or “Laurel”

We Can Learn Much About Our Cultural Divides From “Yanny” or “Laurel”

By now, we have all forgotten about the whole Yanny or Laurel recording that supposedly divided America. Some people heard Yanny, others heard Laurel. I heard Laurel yet some of my friend heard Yanny. At first I didn’t understand how they didn’t hear Laurel. It was so clear in my mind that the voice was saying Laurel. How could anyone have heard Yanny? It really didn’t make any sense to me. I actually had semi-extensive conversations about how on Earth some of my friends could hear something different than I had. They in turn, felt the same way. But here’s the interesting lesson learned after I took a step back from the situation; I realized that this whole recording goes so much deeper than what was heard from that short audio clip...

So what does this recording have to do with anything other than a short pop culture related debate? In my opinion, our approach to this debate reflects how we handle our current divisions about culture, politics, and almost everything else. Our interpretation of this recording is highly representative of our varying perspectives and how we tend to process/react to information that differs from our own. What if we took the time to ask our friends who disagreed with us WHY they heard differently than we did? They may not have been able to explain why in this situation, but what if you both took the time to brainstorm some reasons why there were differing opinions? I bet you would have come up with some creative reasons rather than thinking the other person was just plain crazy. 

At one point after the initial debate we were all trying to UNDERSTAND why our perspectives were different with the recording. The key here is attempting to understand another view point. If we were so baffled by this recording enough to understand the root cause of these varying perspectives, why can’t we try to do the same in our daily lives? Why can’t we take time to understand different cultural perspectives or to understand why people believe in different political beliefs, and so on? Here's what I think....

We can do BETTER. We can be more THOUGHTFUL about HOW we approach our conversations, and actually LISTEN to what the other person is saying. 

We can take the initiative within ourselves to dig a little deeper when we disagree or even when we agree on issues. We can try to have a little more empathy than we typically have on a daily basis. The thought may sound daunting, but all it takes is one tiny step in the right direction. The next time you have a disagreement, perhaps you can ask the person why they believe what they do. You may learn a little something about the person, but a lot more about yourself. 

Just an FYI: People were hearing different names in the Yanny/Laurel recording because of the varying frequencies and quality of the recording. To read more about the reason why we tend to hear different words, click here.

We All Have The Ability To Empower Mothers In The Workplace

We All Have The Ability To Empower Mothers In The Workplace

International Women’s Day, is certainly a day to celebrate the strength, beauty, and power of a woman. But what happens after that day? I am always fascinated by the ability of the general public to publicize a topic for a short period of time until the next best controversial topic arises. Personally, I am interested in ongoing, actionable conversation that takes place longer than one awesome day. On this International Women’s Day I had the pleasure of participating in the World’s Biggest Mama Meetup sponsored by Mindr, Nibble and Squeak, and United Nations Foundation in Washington, DC. The goal: to hold global discussions about how we can make the world better for all moms, and how moms can make the world better for everyone. These discussions also incorporated the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as shown below. 

CLICK ON THIS IMAGE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE UN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

CLICK ON THIS IMAGE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE UN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

Meetups like this one were taking place around the world; Nigeria alone had approximately 40 meetups to discuss women’s issues relevant for their culture. Our group of 10 - 15 women in Washington DC discussed issues highly relevant to working mothers in the United States: maternity and family leave. We talked about how a culture change needs to happen at the workplace in order to accommodate this major familial lifestyle change.

Now for the big question, what can we do to take action to bring greater awareness to this issue? Here are some suggestions: 

1. Talk to your human resources representative to better understand the maternity leave policy. Ask questions, and follow up on unanswered questions. 

2. Men and women should talk to their partners to develop their own plan of action. Each person should value and take their personal and professional roles into account when having these conversations. 

3. This is a family issue, therefore men and women are affected by the family leave policy. Men should ask questions about paternity leave and advocate for time they need to ensure their family situation is in proper order. 

4. Set expectations for yourself and your workplace. Be clear about when you will be online/offline and when you will be in the office or work remotely. 

Every work environment is different, but effective communication and responsibility is key. Once you have taken steps to ensure a plan is in order, be open to the idea that your plan is bound to change upon execution. But, be honest with yourself and your team members about what you can handle. Trust the process, and tackle challenges using a solution oriented perspective. 

This is a very human centric issue. Your voice matters, and issues can only be resolved over time if we discuss them in a productive manner. 

For more information about the founding partners visit: 

Mindr

Nibble and Squeak

United Nations Foundation - Global Moms Challenge

Let’s make each day an awesome day! 

TREAT EACH DAY AS A FRESH START + BE READY TO MAKE AN IMPACT!

TREAT EACH DAY AS A FRESH START + BE READY TO MAKE AN IMPACT!

Maximize the Impact of Your Global Interactions with Papilia

Each day I am astonished by how much I continue to learn through my experiences with Papilia. I am constantly reminded by how fascinating people are; add culture into the mix, and we are now dealing with another set of special circumstances which need to be acknowledged and understood. 

The original concept for Papilia was to provide business and leisure travelers with a customized packing list, culture etiquette tips, and shopping advice. The goal was to help each person feel confident and prepared for their trip prior to departure so they could focus on what actually matters when you travel: to absorb local culture, to develop meaningful relationships, and to create lasting memories. Our original mission was to, "Travel More. Worry Less."

Throughout this journey, I have listened to embarrassing travel-related faux pas, and "I probably shouldn't have done of that" moments from travelers. I spent time thinking about how Papilia's mission could impact the lives of travelers in a more thoughtful way, (in addition to the personalized traveler itinerary). After many months of brainstorming ideas, and reflecting upon global perceptions of culture in the United States and abroad, I came up with a solution that I'm really passionate about.

Papilia now offers customized cross-cultural and international etiquette training and coaching for businesses and individuals who want to improve upon their strategic international relationships or expand their portfolio to develop partnerships internationally. (Detail on these and other trainings are provided on Sophia's personal website and the Papilia website.) 

Our new mission, "Maximize the Impact of Your Global Interactions," addresses a greater need many people are facing and want to better understand. Cultural intricacies are complex, but they are key to successful interactions and will also facilitate a deeper appreciation for local culture and surroundings. 

These training and coaching sessions will also integrate a component that is near and dear to my heart. Mindfulness. In order to interact with other cultures, you have to be mindful of your own interactions. I will incorporate what I have learned from my yoga teacher training to create an experience that will enhance your professional and personal life if you are receptive to it.

Just an FYI: I have a Papilia site and a personal site. Feel free to contact me on either site. I will typically share professional development, personal lessons learned, and other valuable insights on my personal site. Papilia focuses on training and services with a greater focus on travel preparedness and travel inspiration.

I am so excited for this next phase. My ultimate goal is to empower you with the proper tools needed to succeed in any professional or personal setting. 

If you are interested in taking the next step or finding out more information: Please fill out this initial survey so I can understand your training or coaching needs.

If you aren't ready yet, I would love your feedback to my ONE ASK: What is your single biggest communication challenge? 

...and remember...

Culture makes us who we are.

Perception defines how we act.

Knowledge is power.

 

I look forward to hearing from you wherever you are in the world. 

Discovering My Fearlessness at Pink Pangea's Costa Rica Retreat

Discovering My Fearlessness at Pink Pangea's Costa Rica Retreat

This article was originally posted on Pink Pangea's site here. 

I cannot pinpoint the moment I began to look for writing retreats the summer of 2016, I just knew my soul needed to find a deeper sense of purpose through prose. Tremendous loss factored into my decision to look for personal inspiration. My mother passed away unexpectedly on February 2, 2016 from a heart attack. I am a huge proponent of experiencing life to the fullest, but her sudden death sent a jolt of sadness and reality to my system; I was reminded once again about the value and fragility of life. I needed to awaken my inner fears.

MY BEAUTIFUL MOM

MY BEAUTIFUL MOM

 

I love to express myself through words, but I never attended a retreat, never had taken a writing class, and never had traveled with women I did not know. Yet, the sense of community reflected through stories from previous Pink Pangea participants aligned with what I was intuitively searching for. I made the commitment to attend the Costa Rica retreat six months prior to the trip, also something out of character for me. I am a big last minute adventure traveler.

On a cold Saturday morning in Washington DC, I woke up at 3:50 in preparation to go to National Airport; my carryon full of yoga pants, swim suits, journals, and passport in hand. Pure nostalgia ran through my veins in anticipation for this new experience. I had a quick layover in Miami, and could not stop smiling a big cheesy smile walking past the LOVE & PEACE sign at the airport. I was almost in Costa Rica! As the plane landed in San Jose, I was overwhelmed with nervous emotion. How was the week going to unfold? Would our expectations be met? Would we all get along? Why did we decide to make this commitment to come to this retreat? 

This experience exceeded my expectations in every plausible way.

Every morning I woke up to a vibrant sunrise ready to start my day with a yoga class that overlooked glorious mountains, and every night I soaked in a hot tub watching the sunset in a tropical oasis. Each day was filled with copious amounts of fresh food, a plentiful selection of herbal teas, luscious fruit, and thoughtful conversation. On Friday, the last day of this magical retreat I sat on a hammock to absorb all the experiences I had embraced. I felt like I became a better version of myself; I came to Costa Rica with an open heart and an open mind. I was ready to find greater meaning in my life, to invest in myself, to breathe for serenity, to take my writing to the next level. I flipped through my journal to see how the week transformed my inner and outer being. At our first orientation session, we were asked to complete this prompt: “When I see myself writing I see…” I wrote: “I see potential to impact others but there’s a barrier of fear in my mind.” After less than a week some of those barriers dissipated into the clear blue Costa Rican sky. I asked myself, “Why?”

THE VIEW FROM THE YOGA STUDIO AT THE PURA VIDA SPA

THE VIEW FROM THE YOGA STUDIO AT THE PURA VIDA SPA

 

I had the opportunity to write about thought provoking topics personal to my heart in a paradise that embraced self-reflection and encouraged vulnerability. I read my writing in a space where critique was constructive and where I trusted peers for whom I had the utmost respect. I distinctly remember the day we wrote about “A Woman’s Worth.” I described my Mother’s journey from Bangladesh to the United States in the 1970s. Towards the end of sharing my story about her, I burst out in tears of joy and sadness. I could not believe that I had written words that possessed such raw emotion. It was incredible.

When I was not writing, the warmth of the air along with the sound of palm trees swaying in the wind guided my intention to stay in the present moment. I was free from daily responsibility, free from external noise, free from fear.

Above all else, what made this experience in Costa Rica memorable were the people. When I booked this trip, I did not realize that I would be at this retreat on February 2nd, the one year anniversary of my Mom’s passing. Yet, the ability to be my true self and to be comforted by newfound friends gave me the courage I needed to move forward in my life and through my writing.

I have transferred so much of what I learned in Costa Rica into my daily life; enough to conquer the world with all I can offer. I just needed the right opportunity to discover my fearlessness.

THE FEARLESS HAPPY MANGO

THE FEARLESS HAPPY MANGO

Historic La Antigua - Guatemala

Historic La Antigua - Guatemala

La Antigua, once the capital of Guatemala is a breathtaking town nestled in the Central Highlands of Guatemala. 

Bagan: A Life Changing Experience in Myanmar

Bagan: A Life Changing Experience in Myanmar

Bagan will be a life changing experience for avid and newfound travelers alike. The ancient land is a juxtaposition between the temples of the past and the beautiful sunrises and sunsets of the present day. 

Top 5: Long Layover Friendly Airports

Top 5: Long Layover Friendly Airports

Let’s face it. No one likes long layovers. You are already exhausted from the woes of travel, but attitude and distraction is everything

My First Impressions of Myanmar

My First Impressions of Myanmar

welcome_to_the_golden_land.jpg

It's not Throwback Thursday, but I wanted to share my first impressions of Myanmar in lieu of a podcast that I will be featured in about Inle Lake  (in collaboration with @stylematicapp) due to be released this week. This trip was a life changer for me, and I will share more about my time in this wonderful country to encourage you to travel more, and worry less.

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Originally written December 12, 2013

Okay friends, it has already been five days since I have landed in Yangon. I thought it would be fun to answer the top three questions that most friends and family have been asking me since I have arrived. ..and here they are!

1. What are your first impressions?  It has been at least two years since I have been fortunate enough to explore a new country. I had zero idea of what to expect. I looked out the airplane window, and as it landed, I felt like I was 10 years all over again when I first landed in Sri Lanka. I saw a lot of lush green trees, land, and water. Certainly more land than people, buildings, or city lights. As my friend Mike picked me up from the airport I took some time to absorb my surroundings, checking out the roads, and buildings in the 90 plus degree weather. One thing I wasn’t expecting: to see Revlon ads posted all around a shopping mall!

2. What’s it like there? People are very sweet and pleasant. Colonialism can still be felt through the architecture of buildings, like the old railway station you see below. Other than that, Yangon is a city that is bustling with opportunity. There are plenty of marketplaces, hotels, and restaurants to experience. I honestly did not expect to see so much commerce here. There’s also the Yangon Bakehouse that not only has exceptional artisanal goodies, but also works to create job opportunities, skills development, and fair wages to disadvantaged women.

3. How do you like it there? It’s pretty awesome. I am already surrounded by some great friends. I’ve already been to my first soccer match: Myanmar v Cambodia. I can’t wait to visit the local pagodas, eat more of the local cuisine (yes, I’ll be trying out all the local places that Anthony Bourdain has).  Most of all I see so much opportunity, and I’m so excited to delve into al the work I envision for Evolvemint’s future.

I realize that I am being general here, SO keep the questions coming! I will do my best to take as many pictures and to capture stories while I’m here. FYI: I’m obsessed with taking pictures of fruit stands and marketplaces…..more to come about them.

Much love…

Travel Unplugged

Travel Unplugged

Lesson learned for the week in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: sometimes you NEED to travel unplugged.

Papilia is Going to Punta Cana!

Papilia is Going to Punta Cana!

Since February, I have been testing out Papila’s concept by providing travelers with personalized advice on how to pack efficiently and appropriately for their destination. 

The Importance of Travel + Attire #CultureTrav

The Importance of Travel + Attire #CultureTrav

We wake up every morning, go about our daily morning routine and make decisions about our attire according to our activities and weather for the day. This decision is made whether we realize it or not; perhaps because we are aware of our surroundings, and know how to acclimate to our own culture.

What about when we travel? How do we prepare to dress appropriately for another culture? I have to admit, I did not give attire too much thought when I was in my 20s; I wore clothing that I was comfortable in, not realizing it may not have been appropriate for the cultural setting I was placed in. In retrospect, seeing people look at me a certain way, made me feel out of place, and placed me in a dangerous position since I stood out looking like a ‘foreigner’. 

Attire can make or break a personal experience. Anxiety when packing appropriately for our destination can also negatively impact our experiences.

This is why I’m elated to discuss this topic on the #CultureTrav Twitter chat June 25th at 2:30PM Eastern Standard Time (EST) hosted by @Nicolette_O and @JLipowski

Please join us as we ask all you savvy travelers about your experiences regarding travel and attire. 

A preview of our questions below: 

Q1: How long does it typically take you to pack for your trips? Why? What dictates which clothes to bring? #CultureTrav

Q2: Do you shop for attire you need before departing, or wait to shop from local stores? What do you prefer? #CultureTrav

Q3: Have you ever over or underdressed? Share your experience with us. #CultureTrav

Q4: Is there a particular type of attire you really love or appreciate from another culture? Got a pic? #CultureTrav

Q5: What role does one’s attire play in being safe while traveling and is it specific to only women? #CultureTrav

Q6: Share a photo of traditional clothing or attire from your country or heritage. #CultureTrav

BONUS: If you could wear one thing the rest of your life, what would it be and why? #CultureTrav

7 MUST DOs Before Your Trip

7 MUST DOs Before Your Trip

Whether you are a seasoned traveler or a newcomer to the world of traveling, there are certain things you should never leave without. I recently had to make a trip overseas on very short notice, and completed most of these items, and forgot to take care of some. I would hate for the same thing to happen to you.

1. Check the currency of the country. You will want to be prepared to take cash just incase you cannot use a credit card.

2. Call your credit card company. If you plan to use your credit card, the company may put a hold on your card for suspicious activity. Believe me, it's the last thing you want to experience overseas.

3. Call your cellular company if you need an international plan. It's a quick call before you get on a plane; and you will save tons on money.

4. Make copies of your passport. A safety precaution that you will not regret.

5. Check the voltage of the country. You may need to bring a converter for your electronics.

6. Bring your personal medication + other cold/stomach medication. Enough said.

7. Last but certainly not least, check the weather so you appropriately pack clothing for your destination/activities. You want to enjoy your trip to the fullest, right?

If I am missing any MUST HAVES or MUST DOs, please let me know!

For the Love of Travel

For the Love of Travel

Have you ever asked yourself what is stopping you from doing what you love? 

Do you even know what you love? 

Do you know what you are afraid of? 

I never asked myself these questions until 2010, and now I ask myself these three questions at least once a day. 

I’ll answer them right now for you.

Have you ever asked yourself what is stopping you from doing what you love? 

Initially, my fear of taking risks and feeling like I had to follow a societal norm stopped me from thinking outside the box. After years of asking myself this question, saving money, and quitting my job to do what I believe in, I’m starting to figure it out.   I started to pay attention to what made me happy and what made me a negative person. What made me love life was exploring a variety of cultures; using all my five senses to maximize each experience. I’ve never looked back and I am the happiest I have ever been, even if it requires a roller-coaster of ups and downs.

Do you even know what you love? 

I absolutely love to travel. I love to be creative, and I love having a flexible schedule that allows me to work hard and play hard. Papilla incorporates all these elements, and I’m willing to work hard to inspire other people to travel more and worry less. 

Do you know what you are afraid of? 

I’m afraid of failure. Intellectually I know it’s the best way to grow, but emotionally I don’t want to fail. I have a mini motivational moment every day. I remind myself that I am doing what I love and the decisions I make are my own. The world is truly my/your oyster.

I encourage you to ask yourself these questions; and I would be thrilled to hear your responses.

Do what you love. Life is too short.

Live an Inspired Life

Live an Inspired Life

My love for travel undoubtedly originated from my childhood.  I was lucky enough to be exposed to a variety of cultures at a young age without even realizing it until my 20s. 

When I was 10, I lived in Sri Lanka for two years; they were the most formative years of my life. I will never forget the first feeling I had as the plane door opened in Colombo. The humidity immediately infiltrated the air conditioned airplane. A ’sea’ of palm trees covered any trace of buildings or people. It was a complete change from what I was used to in California. I had never seen or thought tin structures could get prime real estate on the beach. Everything I thought I knew at that age completely changed. I was exposed to a variety of religions, races, and situations of political unrest that called for frequent curfews. My curiosity to learn stemmed from the lifestyle of Sri Lankan people, along with many beautiful landscapes, rich history, and spicy food (each topic will have to be covered in a separate post). 

These treasured memories will say with me forever, and this is why I encourage you to travel more, whether it is 100 miles or 1000 miles away. 

1. You learn to appreciate everything you have with a fresh perspective. 

2. You will discover something new about yourself

3. You have created memories for a lifetime. 

 Our lives tend to be so fast paced. Traveling brings me back to reality and reminds me to stop, reflect, and appreciate.

Bottom line: live an inspired life. 

Does Culture Matter?

Does Culture Matter?

I am in the beta stages of working on Papilia, a travel app that helps you pack efficiently and culturally appropriate for your destination

Papilia Will Revolutionize the Way you Travel

Papilia Will Revolutionize the Way you Travel

I am more than thrilled to introduce Papilia to business and leisure travelers who revel in the thrill of exploration and adventure as a part of their daily lives.