When you grow up in the greatest city in the world, what else is there to see? If you're Daniela Diaz '22, everything...
There was one television show Daniela would binge watch as a teenager, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown on CNN. Over 12 seasons and more than 100 episodes, Bourdain traveled the globe, immersing himself in local culture and cuisine. Daniela followed Bourdain from Vietnam, to Jamaica, to Korea living vicariously through his adventures. But when the show made one of its last stops - in Asturias, Spain - Daniela decided it was time for her own adventures.
Daniela's father is from the Dominican Republic and her mother was raised in the Caribbean country. Daniela grew up in Queens, but she spent nearly every vacation in the D.R. That was plenty good enough for Daniela's family and her extended family... more than 100 relatives living close to each in New York City. No one from her family ever traveled domestically, and, it would be a waste of time and resources for Daniela to break from tradition. She'd pick a college in New York City like everyone else, and maybe she would have, if not for that camp counselor wearing a Siena t-shirt.
"I attended Camp Veritas, a Catholic summer camp for teenagers, when I was 17. The camp was in Wurtsboro, and there was a counselor wearing a Siena shirt. I don't know who the counselor was, but when I got home, I looked up Siena, and I read about the study abroad program. Then I told my parents."
Daniela toured Siena and stayed the night on her visit, and she loved it. Her dad couldn't figure out why she wanted to go to college upstate, and neither could the dozens of cousins and aunts and uncles who tried talking her out of it. She reminded them that New York City isn't going anywhere, and enrolled at Siena (the first member of her extended family to go further away than Long Island for school). Next, she planned to reenact her favorite episodes of Parts Unknown.
Daniela studied abroad in Spain, and she dined at some of the same restaurants she saw on the show. She's also toured most of New England with friends, and visited California. She has applied for an English Teaching Assistant grant through Fulbright, and hopes to spend next year teaching English in Uruguay. She'd like to see as much of the world as she can, before she heads back home to New York City to teach Spanish. But again, the city's not going anywhere.
"I grew up in a predominantly Spanish speaking community, but most of my teachers were white. Very few of my classmates left home for college or aspired to see anything beyond what they've always known. I want to be back in the classroom, and I want to inspire students to seek their own adventures."
Daniela has already inspired some younger cousins to consider options they never thought possible. As for her dad, he found a reason to love upstate: the apples. Originally, he couldn't imagine what his daughter would find in Albany that she couldn't get in New York City... but now he makes apple picking a priority during every Capital Region visit.
"I decided to attend Siena because I knew it would provide me with the opportunity to explore, especially through the study abroad program. Travel allows you to learn first hand about other cultures and history. It's the best way to learn beyond the classroom."
Daniela Diaz '22