I took my first lessons in Spanish in middle school with a fabulous teacher named Manny Suarez who told stories about his pet pirhana.

High school and college classes later, I’m still struggling along with Duolingo, debating if it’s time to just hire a tutor.

Dr. Hoda Kilani, on the other hand, speaks Spanish fluently, along with Arabic and English.

And yet after 30 years of speaking primarily English in her adopted home of Canada, her self-set goal of democratizing career literacy through making content in Spanish or Arabic has felt quite daunting. The Language itsel can be a barrier – as she says in this conversation, she can translate “gratitude” into Arabic, but which Arabic word has the nuance she intends?

There’s also, though, the cultural norms build into all processes, including career development, that feel like a potential place to stumble…

…and would a stumble make her look like less of an expert? Can we not all relate to our own version of that question?

You can watch the preview here, or just jump right into this delightful 35ish minutes of conversation here:

Key moments in our conversation include…

Hoda knows herself as a human who:

  • Pushes others to know themselves so that we can find our best-fitting careers
  • Keeps happy by focusing on gratitude in which mindfulness is baked in
    • She tries to name 5-10 things she’s grateful for each morning
    • Helps her give back more to her community and family
  • Makes a podcast and has a YouTube channel
  • Loves to travel
  • Speaks Arabic and Spanish
  • Has a mission of worldwide career literacy

She’s all up in:

  • Trying to take her career literacy work into other languages and the challenges of interpreting rather than translating the messages
    • She committed, right here in the conversation, to publishing in either Spanish or Arabic in January 2024
  • She feels that part of gratitude is stretching outside of our comfort zone
  • Dad would say, “If you think the grass is greener on the other side, you’d better go check it out. You can always come back.”
  • Hoda described an uncomfortable moment of awareness of cultural differences when presenting in Dubai and how it’s reinforced her concerns about moving into another language
    • She also fears that it would sound like she’s less of an expert in career literacy than she is
    • That she was born and raised in Lebanon made the cultural gaff stir in the inner critic all the more: “I should have known that!”

The tools she’s using to move through this time include:

  • Planning though she understands they are flexible and meant to not always work
  • Daily language practice including reading books about careers in Arabic and Spanish
  • Reminding herself that it’s okay to fail
  • Her value of democratizing info and skills of teaching

For her non-profit spotlight, Hoda suggested local food banks. As she said, we think of ourselves of living in the land of plenty and yet there are so many people experiencing food insecurity.

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