Sophia felt satisfied with the career she'd chosen in international development- until she realized how cultural miscommunication was causing a lot of unnecessary headaches and wasted efforts (where they can't afford to be wasted). In a world where world power leaders are doing anything BUT sitting down and effectively communicating, I for one am pumped about what she's doing! Find out more below...
What was your life like growing up?
When I look back on my life growing up, I reflect upon how lucky I have been to be exposed to so many different cultures and mindsets. From Kindergarten through Graduate School, I have attended 14 different schools, and have lived in 10 different places across the United States and abroad. I hated the idea of moving every three years, being the ‘new girl’ at school, finding new friends, and essentially starting from scratch each and every time. In reality, these moves were a blessing in disguise; they helped me get out of my comfort zone, helped me realize how beautiful this world is, and how unique yet how similar we all are. In part due to these moves, I have so many friends around the world that I can visit anywhere I go.
"Before we can impact others, we have to feel a sense of confidence within."
What are you working on?
I am working on a few exciting projects for Papilia, my company, and I’m exploding with excitement. I am merging my background in international development and wellness (I am a yoga instructor and am also obtaining my life coaching certification) to create a series of workshops which merge mindful leadership with cross cultural awareness. Before we can impact others, we have to feel a sense of confidence within. My workshops focus on helping people find their inner passion and purpose first. After we discuss and practice inner balance, we then cover external topics such as how to understand, work, and connect with diverse cultures to create meaningful professional and personal connections. At this time, mini workshops take place in Washington, DC, and will be available online. Corporate retreats as well as mindful leadership retreats are also in the works!
Photo taken while working in international development in the Korail Slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
How would you like to impact the travel industry?
There are so many different sub industries within the travel industry. With all the focus on services, people are craving more personalization and greater understanding of culture and connection. That being said, there are a lot of miscommunications that arise when connecting with people from other cultures or traveling. I would love to alleviate this ‘barrier’ by coaching and training people on how to better understand cultural nuances in a way that creates meaningful relationships and powerful travelling experiences for business and leisure. Through greater mindfulness and receptivity to diversity, travel, and culture, we have the ability to create resilient global communities.
Have you ever taken a trip alone? What’s your advice to women who are hesitant to solo-travel?
As an international development professional, I used to travel all the time as a solo traveler; it was my ‘normal.’ After formally leaving my full-time job I realized that most people are a little more hesitant to do so. Traveling solo is one of the most eye opening, soul smiling, and memorable experiences you will ever have. There are so many more resources available to support female solo travelers, that you never are truly alone (in a good way). My advice: take that step to travel solo, talk to as many people you know who have travelled to the location you would like to travel to. Do research to understand the cultural nuances in order to know how to dress appropriately, how to feel like a local, and areas to avoid/when to avoid them. Have an open mind, use your intuition, and find someone that you know in country (could be a friend of a friend, or a Travelista)!
"Through greater mindfulness and receptivity to diversity, travel, and culture, we have the ability to create resilient global communities."
We all know travel can bring us to unexpectedly *magical * moments . Tell us about one you’ve experienced.
Watching the sunset on top of the highest temple in Bagan, Myanmar was the most magical moment I have ever experienced in my lifetime. Imagine being atop a temple that oversees over 3,000 temples built around 10th century A.D. As I observed this splendid scene in front of me, the sun was setting behind these temples, casting an array of yellow, orange, pink and purple hues in the sky. I was watching a surreal juxtaposition of viewing an attraction in the present moment among historic temples built in the past. As the sun set, I walked 180 degrees around the temple to witness a full moon rise. The light from the moon cast a somber yet serene shadow on the temples that were kissed by the sun only a few moments before. It was at that moment when I was in pure awe and humbled by all that I was blessed with in this world.