Maria Laura Nemtala found a new passion for American cheese pizza as an exchange student.
Like many other exchange students from Bolivia, Nemtala came to the United States with a dream for a better education. She was born and grew up in La Paz, Bolivia and was raised by her mom alongside four siblings.
Nemtala was very fortunate in that her natural intellect opened up many opportunities. One of those opportunities being to attend Colorado State University to study biomedical sciences.
While at CSU, she experienced many levels of culture shock: She had to learn English from scratch; she joined a sorority, a concept not familiar in South America, to make new friends; and last but not least, she discovered the joy of American cheese pizza!
WHAT DID PIZZA OFFER NEMTALA?
For anyone living in the U.S., this story may seem like your typical, “she started a pizza shop” story. However, what Nemtala did with this passion is pretty impressive.
After returning to Bolivia post-graduation, Nemtala began making fabulous homemade pizzas in her kitchen. She was able to find a local shop that had the cheeses needed to make it taste the way she loves.
She started offering the pizzas to her neighbors, and quickly people were making large requests for these pizzas. People would offer money for her to make the pizzas fresh, which evolved into an at-home business. Nemtala would find herself working in a science lab by day and by night she and her siblings would prepare stacks of pizzas, with only one oven to bake them.
This became a source of income for the family, which would later help pay for her brother to have the same opportunity: To go to college in the United States.
Nemtala would find herself working in a science lab by day and by night she and her siblings would prepare stacks of pizzas, with only one oven to bake them.
WHAT DID SHE LEARN FROM HER CULTURAL FLUIDITY?
Maria Laura Nemtala didn’t just learn to speak English during her four years in the United States. Rather, she learned how to take what she learned from this new culture and apply it to her familiar culture.
Nemtala was able to introduce pizza in a new light and ultimately provide for her family. She leads with one very important lesson, “Try not to be afraid of change.”
What may have been someone else’s greatest fear, jumping into a new country with a completely different lifestyle, changed Nemtala’s life for the better. She was able to take her cultural fluidity and make something beautiful from it.
For anyone reading, ready to jump into a new culture, remember to focus on how you can grow in the new environment.