✨ We're launching #MentorMonday - posts highlighting incredible women in our #SparkVoice community, who actively chase their spark and nurture it. We hope these stories will not only introduce you to different sparks, but will encourage and inspire you to pursue your own.
Today, we’re featuring Marissa Black (@marissablackmail), whose spark for cross-culture understanding led her to spend the last two years teaching high schoolers in Guyana and to be certified in teaching English as a second language. Read her story below! ✨
What would you define as your spark, that thing that makes you feel most alive, your passion, dream or purpose?
One of my main sparks is building cross-cultural understanding. I am passionate about people from different backgrounds, cultures, and life experiences understanding one another better. I love (as in “get goosebumps” love) when people are exposed to different perspectives and worldviews and thus come to a deeper understanding of one another and themselves.
How did you find your spark?
In high school, I spent a summer in Peru, which led to studying abroad in college and then serving as a teacher in South America for two years after graduation. I found my spark when I was able to ask those of another culture to share their stories--whether through writing, videography, or in the classroom. When I was teaching high schoolers in Guyana, South America, I felt I was exactly where I belonged. Teaching abroad created the space for open, inclusive conversations about culture, family, race, school, and so many other topics!
How do you nurture your spark?
While I am State-side right now, I am still pursuing cross-cultural relationships. I recently became certified to teach English as a second language to English language learners, and I currently teach a woman from my neighborhood who just moved from Mexico. I also try to keep in touch with my co-workers and students from Guyana. To me, building cross-cultural understanding means showing hospitality to those who feel foreign or are often excluded. So while I am not traveling right now, I can still extend hospitality and a listening ear to those in my community.
What is 1 piece of advice you’d give to young girls and/or moms raising daughters?
You will probably find several sparks inside you and many things that capture your interest or grab your attention. Allow yourself to explore those interests, even as they may shift over time. My love for writing paved the way to cross-cultural experiences, which led me to teaching! Your passions may often connect, so don’t feel as if there’s one singular purpose for your life and if you miss it, you’re sunk. There are seasons for everything--allow yourself the freedom to explore whatever passions make themselves clear to you!
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