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Inspiring Conversations with Natasha Rodriguez of Journey Mom

Today we’d like to introduce you to Natasha Rodriguez.

Hi Natasha, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Let me tell you the story about how this quiet DC girl named Natasha became an adventurous solo traveling Journey Mom. I was born and raised in Washington DC during the time it was truly known as “Chocolate City.” My family moved here back in the 60s after immigrating from Panama. I attended District of Columbia Public Schools from K-12 where I graduated with honors.

Despite my good grades and passion for learning, I had no intentions of going to college due to financial restrictions. After much support from counselors, mentors, and tutors I found myself with several college acceptance letters accompanied by scholarship offers. Later that fall, I was moving into my college dorm at UMD to be a proud Terp. Fast forward to sophomore year, I found out I was pregnant. I went from college student to mother in a matter of months. During that time, I was majoring in Romance Languages, where I needed to study abroad to gain language proficiency.

Somehow, someway, I managed to convince my support system to let me go away for a winter term study abroad program in Italy. My son was six months old at the time I left. Those several weeks away taught me so much about myself. Like how I was able to navigate a foreign territory, speak a new language, and learn different customs. I also realized how brave and resilient I was after experiencing terrible flight anxiety. The home remained the same, but I felt different returning. The next year, I found myself abroad again, but this time in a rural community in Guatemala where I was tasked to help renovate a school for the local children.

This was by far the most humbling experience I ever had during that point in my life. Conducting labor-intensive work in the heat, having little electricity, and often times cold showers. Once again, the home remained the same, but I saw it differently. In my senior year of college, I decided to participate in my last study abroad program, which took place in Costa Rica. Here is where I learned the true meaning of “Pura Vida” and how to live life like a true Tico. It was a great way to end my college career.

This last trip taught me that travel would be forever in my future. Post-college, I found myself traveling across the country to visit friends that I had accumulated over the years from studying abroad. One year, I decided to pick up and go on solo travel. I had such a great time that I found myself doing it again and again just like my study abroad days. Twelve years later, I found myself having traveled to over 25+ countries, the majority of which were completed solo.

Every now and again, I stop to thank that quiet DC girl, that scared new mom, and that curious young woman for chasing her dreams. Because of her, I am who I am today.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No, it has not been a smooth road. I had many obstacles to overcome, which included financial debt, taking time off, missing my son while away, at times unsupportive family, leaving friends behind, constant flight anxiety, and so forth. As new obstacles appeared (because they never go away) I learned to adapt and cope.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Three years ago, I decided to create my own business and name it Journey Mom LLC. Its mission is to bridge gaps between people of different identities and cultures through advocacy and education.

1. I facilitate workshops for various organizations around diversity, equity, and inclusion issues to help them enhance cultural awareness, empathy, emotional intelligence, and communication skills.

2. I conduct speaking engagements, webinars, and presentations for various higher education institutions around the importance of global education via study abroad programming.

3. I launched a clothing line that promotes slogans and affirmations pertaining to the journeys of life and travel.

4. I offer a wide variety of crafted cocktails that I learned to make from my travels around the globe.

5. I opened a small online boutique of collector’s items I have accumulated from around the world.

All of my life’s work surrounds exposure to global travel but mainly full immersion travel. When we seek to understand those that we perceive to be different from us the better we become as global citizens. Journey Mom encourages individuals to seek out those hidden similarities rather than focusing on those visible differences.

I have traveled the world in so many lights- as a woman, a woman of color, a daughter, a mother, an educator, and so forth but mainly as a curious human being, wanting to connect with and positively impact as many people as I can.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
The older I become, the bolder I get. It is never too late to try something new or make a change. Life is short, so make the most of it.

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