Appreciation for multi-culturalism inspires most, if not all, aspects of my life. As the son of immigrants from Argentina, I find my cultural identity to lie squarely in the hyphenated middle of “Argentine-American” — too Argentine to be American, but too American to be Argentine. Extended to great-grandparents, I am 100% Slavic. Linguistically, although all my schooling was in English, growing up we spoke only Spanish at home. I do mental arithmetic and measure ingredients for cooking in Spanish, but often catch my wandering thoughts and internal monologue to be narrated in English; occasionally, I’ll even dream in French. The lingua franca of the academic profession is of course English, but I feel most at ease when I can “be” in Spanish.
I try to leverage my privilege to amplify the voices of people from disenfranchised communities. As a founding Board Member and Treasurer of Northwestern Comunidad Latinx (CLX), I helped foster inclusion of Latinx graduate students in campus life through cultural, service, and social events. Through coordination with university administration and other campus partners and financial record-keeping, I sought to create and secure space for students whose experiences are not usually centered to be themselves. Informally, I also seek to be a mentor to junior PhD students, particularly as a resource to students less familiar with or aware of the “rules of the game”. In addition, I serve as a Department Organizer for Northwestern University Graduate Workers
Beyond my involvement with CLX and my department, my time on a team of pro bono consultants to a non-profit, social services organization serving the Chicago area allowed me to apply my knowledge of management and strategy theories to address real-world complexities of issues involving organizational change, culture, and motivation. I was also involved in organizing the West Lafayette Coalition for Anti-Racist Education (WL-CARE), a grassroots social movement in my hometown, to demand anti-racist reforms and curriculum in the public school district.
Another interest revolves around breaking the taboo on discussing mental health. Although I have gone through my own struggles with mental health, they are under control through therapy and medical treatment. I will always try to be an ally to anyone, inside or outside academia, who wants to discuss mental health.
The “beautiful game” is one of my greatest passions. I played in organized leagues from ages 5 to 19, have played pick-up games on four continents, and have attended matches at three international tournaments. My dream is to see my dear Boca Juniors play the Superclásico at the Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires. More recently, the surprisingly biggest takeaway from my four years as a certified referee was to develop the capacity to dispassionately assess complex social situations and then evaluate them given relevant rules (for example, through applying the Laws of the Game to actual match situations); this skill has avoided or resolved many conflicts in my personal and professional lives.
Cliché aside, my soul takes great pleasure in letting music stir it. In my twenty years as an amateur cellist, with formative training from Konstantin Jakimow and direction under Michelle Brooks, I have played in up to four orchestras at once. To meet a shortage of musicians in my high school orchestra, I taught myself double bass and, in parallel, learned to strum an electric bass. These days, my cello and electric bass remain welcome companions in my leisure time.
Favorite genres (and artists’ recordings linked) include alternative and indie rock (Radiohead, Neutral Milk Hotel, Arcade Fire), Romantic-influenced classical (Beethoven, Shostakovich) , grunge/metal (Smashing Pumpkins, System of a Down), and art pop (Björk, Sigur Rós, School of Seven Bells). In non-pandemic times, I am an avid concert-goer; on the other hand, the pandemic has accelerated the growth of my vinyl record collection. Other fun-fact, yet unrefined musical skills include singing overtones and having perfect pitch.
Home-cooked meals were a staple of my youth. Other life experiences have translated this into my adult life as a fascination with the sense of taste, particularly with the ability of spices and herbs to combine into intricate, delectable flavor profiles. Recent attempts to fuse Western European and South Asian spices have yielded quite a few tasty vegetable curries. The account @cookingwithchefdaniel chronicles some of these recipes on Instagram.