This month our Anti-Defamation League Mountain States Spotlight focuses on long-time A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute Facilitator Victoria Miller. Read more below about Victoria’s fascinating personal background and her passion for anti-bias education, her own students and the mission of the Anti-Defamation League.
How did you first become involved in ADL? How are you involved now?
Interestingly enough, I didn’t find ADL, ADL found me. I came back from a long trip out of the country to find a voice message from (former ADL National Director of Training) Beth Yohe asking me if I would be interested in being a trainer for ADL. Someone had given her my name. I immediately went to ADL’s website to find out who they were and what they did. I was very impressed with the work they did, especially the A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute. They had me at “hello”! I immediately called our dear Beth back. The rest is history.
What do you do in your professional life?
I no longer work but I spent the last ten years of my working career as the Multicultural Director of the Alzheimer’s Association. I spearheaded all of the multicultural initiatives for the seven regional offices belonging to the Colorado Chapter. My background is in teaching. I taught Literature, English and Spanish at ULACIT and UIA universities in Costa Rica and owned a translation business for many years.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a marine biologist.
Where were you born? From where do your ancestors hail?
I was born in Costa Rica, but lived in many different countries as my father served in the diplomatic service. My ancestors are from Spain and my grandfather was a Native from Nicaragua.
What’s your favorite holiday?
Christmas is undoubtedly my favorite holiday. It brings good childhood memories when family was closest.
What’s your favorite food?
Fruit and chocolate…. together! I also love trying different ethnic foods.
What are you reading?
It’s ironic that being a literature major, I practically don’t read fiction. Ten years ago I decided I still have too much to learn so I only read non-fiction. Right now I’m reading the New Testament as well as a book on metabolism.
What’s a special place you have visited?
What’s one thing every person should know or experience?
Scuba diving is something people should experience at least once. Being 40 feet underwater, weightless and totally uninterrupted by “worldly notice” in a beautiful sea of color and beauty is an unbelievable experience.
What teacher or class stands out to you the most in your education and why?
My biology teacher had a great influence on me. I was already extremely curious and a nature lover and had managed to have a collection of unusual pets including beetles, snakes, turtles and parrots (some were shortly thereafter released by my parent). When I was introduced to the world of biology I felt like I had traveled on a spaceship to a new planet.
What are you passionate about personally? What can’t you stop talking about?
This one is hard for me as I have so many different interests that I always felt I needed at least two more lives to accomplish them all. If I need to narrow it down, I can report that I’m passionate about dancing, art, and world justice.
Where can we find you when you’re not working?
In my art studio drawing, painting and creating.
What would be impossible for you to give up?
Art, music and trying to make a difference in the world.
Tell me a story that immediately pops into your mind that was a defining or significant moment for you.
In 1982, the embassy of Costa Rica was moved to Jerusalem in recognition of the state of Israel. My father as chargé d’affaires made that change which caused tremendous chaos and hostility against the country. We received death threats and months later he was kidnapped. I was flown out of the country and remained separated from my family for a while until things settled and we could be reunited elsewhere. This was a significant and defining moment in my young life having realized that hatred and bigotry weren’t just words floating around out there but they were alive and had a face.
What do you most enjoy about being an A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute facilitator?
I enjoy conversing with kids about what’s happening in their world and what challenges they are facing. I find it very rewarding to be instrumental in helping students understand the world around them in order to make it a better place. The one on one conversations with them and all they teach me has no price for me.
Complete this sentence: For me, the ADL is …
a place of personal growth; a family.