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An Interculturalist at the Crossroads of Culture and Career – Part I

Mishell Hernandez defines her role as an interculturalist

Recently, I sat down to virtually-talk with Cross-Cultural Kid (CCK), Immigrant, Expatriate, Third Culture Adult (TCA) and Interculturalist — Mishell Hernandez.

Mishell is described as a “Mexican, Mongolian, raised in the United States.” I would add, university-educated in Melbourne Australia, and now living, and working, in Shanghai, China as an Interculturalist.

She is effectively using her education and cross-cultural experience to create a brilliant career. When asked what she does for a living, and responding with, “I’m an interculturalist,” Mishell says that people often ask, “What, what?”

The interculturalist profession defined

In her role as an interculturalist working in China, Mishell explains her role with the confidence of a skilled professional.

“Basically, the way that I look at my job is that I’m sort of a peer mediator, slash teacher therapist, slash, teacher, slash advisor—to a company. On the outside, it looks like I’m teaching English … but what I’m also doing is just managing sort of the communication helping them get a message out the right way.” When asked how a woman born in Moscow, Russia found herself living and working in China Mishell said—“I feel this where I’m supposed to be.”

Mishell gave the following response when asked how she self-identifies when questioned about her hidden diversity.

Hidden diversity is a life perspective and worldview that is not apparent from the usual identity markers of nationality, race, and ethnicity.

Mishell said — ” I just say it depends on the day, and it also depends on who I’m speaking with. In China I find myself speaking to a lot of different people as well from different walks of life [and] different backgrounds. And, if they are Asian I kind of stick to my Asian side and I say I’m half Mongolian. Now, If I’m speaking with South Americans or, Spanish people, or Portuguese, people I say I’m half Mexican, because we’re speaking Spanish already. Now, if I’m speaking to a British person or an Australian person I will say that I’m American.”

Living “in-between” cultures

Mishell seems to have a fluid identity that serves her well, it seems. It helps her to find a way to connect with people that makes it easy to start a conversation and to develop a rapport with anyone.

Bridging the cultural gap between Asia and the rest of the world is in Mishell’s blood. Mishell’s father is from Mexico,  and her mother is from Mongolia. They were the first in their respective families to marry outside of their race and nationality. As a result of this unique union, Mishell had lovingly spent her youth as the bridge between the two sides of her family—the Asian side and the Hispanic side. Living “in-between” cultures, it seems has become a tremendous asset to Mishell in her work as an interculturalist.

Come back next week to read how Mishell handles being an Asian-Latina living in the U.S. And, later being an Asian-Latina living in Asia

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