Episode title and number: Featuring Oksana Chuchunkova #10
Brief summary of the show:
If you listened to our October podcast episode you learned about Bold Blind Beauty's Ambassador search. Today's show is a follow-up where co-hosts, Nasreen, Sylvia, and I go deeper on the topic of what it means to be an Ambassador. Joining us in the conversation is Dana, Bold Blind Beauty's Beauty Editor. Then midway through the show Interns Marta DiVito and Iliana Mejia interview Oksana, Global Ambassador for Bold Blind Beauty. We hope you enjoy this edition of the podcast!
Additional Information About Bold Blind Beauty's Ambassador Search
Bullet points of key topics & timestamps:
0:17 | Introduction
1:24 | What It Means To Be An Ambassador
6:48 | Dana: Beauty Editor & PBA Ambassador
17:06 | The Interns Chat With Global Ambassador Oksana
Contact information & social media handles to connect with Melody Goodspeed:
Finding Bold Blind Beauty On A.I.R.
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Calls to action:
Music Credit: “New Inspiration” by BasspartoutX https://audiojungle.net/item/new-inspiration/7204018
Welcome back to another episode of Bold Blind Beauty On A.I.R. Bold Blind Beauty On A.I.R. is clearing the air for more A.I.R. (access, inclusion, and representation). I'm Stephanae McCoy,
I'm Nasreen Bhutta.
And I'm Sylvia Stinson-Perez.
And we are your co-hosts. Our lineup for this edition of Bold Blind Beauty On A.I.R. will be a little different, as the discussion will center around Bold Blind Beauty's Global Ambassador campaign. Our regular co-hosts Nasreen, Sylvia, and I will sit down with Dana Hinnant, Beauty Editor for Bold Blind Beauty. Then, interns, Marta and Iliana will interview Advisory Board Member and Global Ambassador Oksana to talk to her about what it's like being an ambassador. So sit back and enjoy today's show.
Hey, Sylvia, have you heard about our Bold Blind Beauty's Ambassador program?
Well, Nasreen and Steph I've heard about the new ambassador program and I'm super excited. But I have to tell you that I don't know a lot and I know our listeners don't know much at all. So I think it's gonna be fun to learn about it today.
Have you ever been an ambassador before for anything Sylvia? Because I haven't had the pleasure of trying that task out.
Actually, a few years ago, I was a Hadley ambassador, I think an important thing to know about being an ambassador is that it's got to be something you're passionate about; an organization, a cause, a mission. Whatever it is, it needs to be something that you have this passion for that you feel makes a big difference in the world. And I felt that way about Hadley and I definitely feel that way about Bold Blind Beauty.
I think you hit the nail on the head there when you talk about your passion and it's a special honor to represent an organization and stand behind their belief system. But I know for our followers, the initiative that we're running right now, looking for 10 Ambassadors, our followers are fantastic people, they really are engaging with what we have to offer here at Bold Blind Beauty. They're always sharing with us their journeys and stories inspiring us and participating in what we have to offer. And I think on whether it's on our Bold Blind Beauty page, or our group or socials, you know, through Instagram or what have you, there are some wonderful people out there that would love to stand with us here at Bold Blind Beauty and represent Bold Blind Beauty as we call them Bold Leaders Illuminating New Directions.
I love the Bold Leaders Illuminating New Directions, it just feels so forward moving. It just makes me feel like we're going down a road taking a positive journey that's lit up. So the person who created it, Dana, brilliant! Dana, what do you think? Hop in here.
Dana Hinnant 03:27
Yeah. Well, I think Bold Leaders Illuminating New Directions, now I can't take credit for the actual saying of that. That was to our team leader Miss Steph came up with the Oh, final, the final Bold Leaders Illuminating New Directions. Because she and I were going back and forth and playing with the acronym of blind. And when she hit me with that one, I was like, that's the one. And oh, we just built upon it from that point on. So hats off to our team leader Steph for coming up with the final Bold Leaders Illuminating New Directions.
Great job, Steph. Of course. Yeah, brilliant.
It actually really was a team effort it was all of us. Dana was the one that was toying around with the word blind trying to come up with a positive acronym for it. We threw out different words, I changed one word. When I put it back to her, she was like, that's it. We put it out to the rest of the team and everybody was in agreement. And it really was truly a team effort.
So you know what Steph? You use the keyword there. That is what ambassadors are all about and that's team. Because Bold Blind Beauty has a small team and you need ambassadors to help to expand that team to accomplish the mission. So are there any criteria for these ambassadors? Like how will people know if they should apply?
Well, the very first criteria is the acronym for the word BLIND, Bold Leaders Illuminating New Directions. The acronym's BLIND but that doesn't mean that all of our ambassadors are physically blind it's open to anyone because we are fully inclusive. So we are looking for people who are passionate. People who are believers in Bold Blind Beauty. They believe in our mission, vision, and values. They also have knowledge of or have a willingness to learn about the inequities within the disability community. And they want to help us to promote positive change.
So really, it comes down to these three things. BLIND, Bold Leaders Illuminating New Directions, a believer in Bold Blind Beauty, and then promoting positive change to combat the inequities within the disability community.
I think y'all said they gotta be fun, too.
Oh, absolutely. A good sense of humor never hurts to be part of our team. Send in your videos no more than one minute and a half long, telling us why you'd love to be part of our team. Be a Bold Leader Illuminating New Directions, Ambassador, and represent Bold Blind Beauty come be part of our team.
Thank you, Nasreen. So yes, Dana Hinnant, our Beauty Editor for Bold Blind Beauty is with us today. And I'm so excited to talk with you, Dana because I know that you had mentioned to me when we first met, that you recently became an ambassador for a specific organization last year. And how excited that that made you feel, and I could hear the excitement in your voice. Can you tell me what that moment was like and how that came about for you?
Dana Hinnant 07:18
Oh, sure. Certainly Steph. Well, it was around Thanksgiving last year. I have inside connections in the trade association that I'm a part of in the beauty industry PBA (Professional Beauty Association). And I happened to reach out to one of my connects just kind of checking in updating to see what was new coming down the pike. She said to me, oh, Dana, we're getting ready to launch our ambassador's program in the new year. We think you would be a great ambassador because you have something to bring to the table and you have something to say.
Dana Hinnant 07:56
I was in my home office, and I sat there, and I'm like, what? And then she was like, I'm putting your name on the list. I was. She said, would you want that? I said, Absolutely. Then I got the official ask right before Christmas. So that was a nice Christmas present going into the new year. They have been developing it through this year and they're going to really, really kick it off at the time that we're recording in the next couple of weeks.
Dana Hinnant 08:26
I'm really, really excited about the whole opportunity to be recognized in my beauty industry to say that you have something to bring to the table. So that makes me feel really, really good.
I'm sure that it does. And it has to be sort of extra special, too in that you are a member of the disability community. I hope you don't mind my sharing that, is that okay?
Dana Hinnant 08:52
Oh, no, no, that no, that's fine.
So being a legally blind person, and I'm sure the first one for PBA as an ambassador, that had to be extra special.
Dana Hinnant 09:07
Absolutely. I think I cried at some point. I think I was in just like shock. I called my business partner and I told him and he was like, not surprised. He was like, see, you know, and it was just, I was like kind of walking on a cloud for a while because it meant so much to me because it had nothing to do with the fact that I am legally blind, visually impaired. It had everything to do with me because I'm a professional, and I have something to bring to the table.
Dana Hinnant 09:45
As I tell anybody, nobody gave me my license. I had to earn my stripes along the way and it wasn't easy. But to be recognized to say hey, you can share all your knowledge and things that you have gone through over the past 20 years. So it's a great opportunity. It gives me the opportunity since I became a part of the Bold Blind Beauty team, that I can share Bold Blind Beauty with the beauty industry as your beauty editor.
That is really huge for us. Because one of the reasons why I created Bold Blind Beauty was so that we could have discussions around beauty and fashion and style. And those types of things that we enjoy talking about and being a part of because I think society at large tends to think that because you're blind or visually impaired, that you might not have an interest in these types of things. But we know from experience that that's definitely not true. Right?
Dana Hinnant 10:54
Right. Absolutely. Absolutely. So I'm glad it's getting, we're kind of making a difference about what we're putting out there. And we're showing people as we go out and about in our communities that, you know, we care about how we look. And we're showing it so I just think we're giving another perspective of that we're like everybody else, and I think we're just trying to reinforce it, that we're no different.
Yes. And what I really like about this and about you in particular, in your situation, becoming an ambassador for PBA is the fact that you are qualified. You were awarded this ambassadorship strictly because of your qualifications. As you said, it had nothing to do with your vision impairment. I think that speaks volumes for our community, because others that are looking onward, younger people, in particular, can look to you and say you're a role model, you're someone that they can aspire to be like if they want to follow in your footsteps. And they can.
Dana Hinnant 12:03
And that's, you know, I guess I feel like maybe you know, people like myself laying the foundation for others to come along and lay down the tracks the path. So people can follow in the footsteps that this is possible. No, it was not easy. Let me tell you, that's a whole nother story. But it's quite possible if you stay, stay true to it, and persevere through it. And I continued to persevere through the challenges and made shifts where I needed to, but still remained relevant in the industry. And I still feel that I am still relevant.
Oh, you're definitely relevant. And we're so so honored to have you as part of our team, as our beauty editor. And just one of our team members offering your expertise and knowledge and just sharing with us what you know, to help to take Bold Blind Beauty to the next level.
Dana Hinnant 13:12
I'm having fun doing it.
Yes, we are having fun, aren't we? And as Sylvia said that is one of the qualifications for our ambassadors. We want people to come in and not just be passionate, because you can be passionate, and be really, really focused and forget everything else. But have some fun too. You know, let your hair down, relax, have fun. And when it's time to get in and work and do the work that's necessary, we can all come together and make that happen. Absolutely. So Dana, can you share with us some of the tasks that you're going to be doing as an ambassador? Do you know that yet? Or is that something you can share with us?
Dana Hinnant 14:00
Yes, absolutely. And you know, of course, I'll share more as as the position evolves. So one of the things is engaging the PBA community because they have their own community. So we welcome them in it's you know, for the members and be a welcome person, evoke conversation, do conversation starters in the community. Put questions out there. Give advice, just to start the conversation, also mentoring, mentoring people coming into the industry.
Dana Hinnant 14:38
I had one young lady earlier this year. She found me in the community and she reached out to me she's in California and she was I started as a makeup artist and I just evolved into an aesthetician and she reached out to me on the PBA community board and for a few months she was reaching out to me too, I basically was giving her guidance and what she should follow as far as being as a makeup artist.
Dana Hinnant 15:08
Because I know when I first got out there, I didn't really have direct mentors, it was more so I could connect with people. And I just worked my connections and got in. But it was my mentors. Initially, when I came into the industry, were coming out of the trade magazines, until I got into when I was working in a day spa, my manager was my mentor.
Dana Hinnant 15:36
So I knew what it was like when you first tried to say you're going to pursue this industry, how important it is to have mentors. So whatever I can advice that I can give back to somebody coming into the industry that I'm going to do that. And it felt really good to feel like she was really accepting the guidance that I was giving her.
Thank you so much, Dana. It has been such a joy talking with you about our ambassador program, and we look forward to having more conversations going forward as we continue the campaign.
Dana Hinnant 16:11
And I look forward to the journey as well. And we're gonna continue to have some fun. So thank you for the opportunity.
There you go. Everybody's that was Dana Hinnant our beauty editor just sharing her journey and her views on being an ambassador. If that doesn't inspire you, I don't know what will. So please get on board. If you feel like you would love to audition for the Bold Blind Beauty ambassadorship position, the deadlines are November 30. Send us your videos and a minute and a half long no more, telling us why you think we should choose you as our Bold Blind Beauty ambassador. Now let's catch up with our interns, Iliana and Marta, who are chatting with Oksana, who is our Global Ambassador here at Bold Blind Beauty.
Marta DiVito 17:06
Hi, everyone. This is Bold Blind Beauty's intern Marta I'm so excited to introduce Iliana Bold Blind Beauty's newest intern.
Iliana Mejia 17:19
Hi, Marta. It's so great to be here. I'm super excited.
Marta DiVito 17:23
Great to have you. Iliana and I are here to talk to Bold Blline Beauty's International Ambassador and Chair Member Oksana.
Iliana Mejia 17:37
Hi, Oksana. Tell us a bit about yourself. Introduce yourself a bit. What do you do?
Well, first, thank you for inviting me to participate in this wonderful podcast. Well, I will try to be as brief as I can. I was born in Moscow, Russia. And I live and work in Russia for the time being. And now I am working as the accessibility expert for VTB Bank. This is the second global bank in Russia.
I started at school for the blind, then I was fortunate enough to study in the United States. I was studying there for nine months in the international program at our group School for the Blind Philadelphia. Also, I had the experience of working at a Russian NGO, helping people with disabilities to find jobs. This is very short, but I hope you will have some questions and I will actually I will uncover the topic much more.
Iliana Mejia 18:52
Wonderful, wonderful. You seem to do a lot and that's super exciting. You so you're a Chair Member and also an Ambassador for Bold Blind Beauty. What does Bold Blind Beauty mean to you?
Well, first, let me tell you how I actually found this wonderful community. It was actually less known than it is now. First I heard about Bold Blind Beauty, I think it was in the fall of 2019 from Chief Officer Communication, Nasreen. Then she introduced me to Steph and we started to work together and to think about developing this wonderful community. And so actually, it's been a year and a half since I am a crew member.
And if we could talk about the Bold Blind Beauty not as a community but about this terminology about these words. It means a lot to me, because the word Bold is a very, it's a word that defines people, as people who want to do something, who, who want to achieve their goals, who want to bring something in their life and in the life of others. Blind, okay, this is just a state, a condition of a person, this is it. It's not that person is different from others. And Beauty is beauty because everyone is beautiful in his or her own way. So all these words sound like magic to me. And it means that being a part of the community, being together, we could do lots of things for blind people, for women and men, and for the society to bring beauty into the society in any way.
Marta DiVito 21:10
That's a great point. Can you share a little bit about your sight loss journey with us?
Well, there's nothing to say too much about that because I've been born blind. Actually, it happened because my mom had an infection, unfortunately. But anyway, I'm very thankful to my parents, they that they never, you know, they never raised me in the bubble. And they always wanted me to be the same as my friends as people who I played in the yard, in the country house where I came every summer and every winter. You know, because my grandma lives in a country house.
And then I had more and more friends, like in my neighborhood. And so my parents never told me like, stop running, stop a crawling stop. I don't know, behaving, just sit down and close your eyes and just read books and listen to the radio. Yeah, I had books, and I listened to the radio a lot. But I was, I was together with others. And that's why I, you know, it was the basic thing in my life. And that's why I was adaptive enough to continue my way on my own.
Iliana Mejia 22:36
That's wonderful. I'm happy that you had such a positive journey. You've had the pleasure of both experiencing Russia and the United States. So we're curious, have you noticed any differences in the way people who are blind and visually impaired are treated in both places?
Well, do you mean, treated like in general, or at schools, or at their workplace or by the government? What do you mean, particularly,
Marta DiVito 23:09
Like, in general, they're all different?
Well, as for me, it's hard to compare right now. Because when I was in the United States, many, many years ago, actually, there was another situation in Russia, it was USSR at the time. So it was another country with other kinds of laws.
And now we see that the situation is generally getting better here in Russia because blind people can get more chances to study in the best universities. I know lots of people who studied and continue to study at Moscow State University. This is the largest university here in Russia, and in some other similar universities. And people get jobs because first because of the United Nations Convention on Disability Rights, and people get better conditions.
But on the other hand, I see that people started to be overprotected here, compared to the time when I was a teenager, when I started my job, you know, my career path. And now it's hard for me to say what the situation in the United States is. Because, for instance, when I came to the United States many years ago, there were people mostly studying at schools for the blind, and some of the people started to become integrated students.
But now as I can understand, more people are integrated, more school kids are integrated. And talking with people who are adults, I am making a conclusion that the unemployment rate is absolutely the same here and there. And surely, maybe you have more possibilities to get different gadgets. Just correct me if I'm wrong, here is harder to get gadgets we need to buy them. And, well, I think I need to research more. So I need to travel to the United States again, and to live for a while here and to see the situation from inside.
Iliana Mejia 25:47
Well, if you ever come back, we would love to have you here in the United States.
Marta DiVito 25:52
Thanks. For sure it's always nice to hear other people's perspectives. Because everybody has a different perspective and experience, especially in a whole other country. I'm curious, how has being a global ambassador helped your career path?
Well, I'll tell you the truth, that unfortunately, it doesn't influence my career in any way. Because we don't have such a community here. I know that it is hard to develop such a community because lots of people have a lack of English speaking competencies. And surely some of the people do, but they are not in the community. And I was trying to involve people, but it doesn't work. Yes, they are interested.
But you know, some of the people have other like hobbies, or maybe they better, they would better become members of their own community here in Russia, if there could be the kind of community but not coming to the Bold Blind Beauty. And as for me, it is big, big fun, and joy to become a part of Bold Blind Beauty. And I'll tell you a funny story. Bold Blind Beauty means much, much more, as just, you know, a group of great people in a society of a community of good people, because when I have just started using the internet, my nickname was Beauty.
You know, I always loved beautiful things, beautiful jewelry, clothing, etc, etc. And well, as for me, I always enjoy being a part of the Advisory Board. I always like to create ideas. And besides, it's a great practice for me for speaking English almost every day. I mean, unfortunately, not every day, but I'm trying to read letters, you know, emails, I participate in phone calls, and we have meetings with beauty industry representatives. And this is all just fun and great work just for my pleasure. This is it.
Marta DiVito 28:39
So would you say that in Russia, most of the population either speaks Russian, Polish or Ukrainian that like the language barrier is definitely there to get more people involved with Bold Blind Beauty?
Oh, well, I will tell you this. First, in Russia, you know, people speak Russian in Russian mostly because, you know, people speak Polish in Poland and people speak Ukrainian in Ukraine. There is a bit of it's funny, but there is a barrier between these three languages that you listed. And, you know,
Marta DiVito 29:23
I'm quite, I'm quite aware being from that side of the world.
I see. And, you know, people I will tell you about blind people speaking English. People learn English at schools, mostly and people understand the importance of learning how to speak English. Also, people try to do that, listening to videos, you know, taking courses from English language schools, etc, etc. But still, the blind community is not that big, I think It is the same here. It's not, it's less than the community of sighted people. And that's why it's hard to find these pearls that could go after me and say, Okay, we are going to become a part of the Bold Blind Beauty.
I had an experience. I actually my friend, a friend of mine, decided to make a radio program on a Russian internet radio station. It took place in April of 2020. And I don't that I told the audience about, about Bold Blind Beauty, about what we do and how we work and about, you know, all these wonderful persons that created this. And you know, about Steph about Nasreen and there was no resonance after that.
So people, maybe people were listening. Actually, it was the internet radio station of all Russian society for the blind. And there was no call during the program. There is no email afterward, no feedback, and I was upset. I said, okay, just go your own way. And I will go my own way. That's it.
Marta DiVito 31:21
That makes sense.
Iliana Mejia 31:22
Yeah. So now we're going to get a little less work and a little less professional, what are some of your hobbies? What are some things you like to do for fun?
I love music. I love singing. I used to perform. But now I didn't go to the stage for about, oh gosh, for about one and a half years. And there are many reasons for that but I really had fun, and I have some videos. So this is my memory. And I was singing when I was a child. When I was a teenager, I was singing. I was a rock group, singer, rock band singer. And then there was a long break.
I came back, you know, it was my comeback in 2012. And then it was over, you know, year, year and a half ago, as I told you, but I visited Poland twice, singing in a competition. I didn't win anything, but I had lots of fun. I participated in some more competitions at some concerts and I just love to listen to music. Music is always with me.
Also, I love hiking. This is like sports for me, because I love to see how many steps I took during the day during this day during the last day and to compare this data. And also I am a cat person, I love feeding cats. I always feed cats that live in my you know, in my neighborhood. And I was dreaming about learning another language. First, it was Spanish and then it was German, and unfortunately, I didn't go to my dream. Unfortunately, I quit. But anyway, I hope maybe one day I will continue. I love reading there's
Marta DiVito 33:42
Yeah, there's always time.
Iliana Mejia 33:44
And always. Also, as a music and cat lover, I totally understand. I also sing so that I see why music is such a big part of you because it's a big part of me as well.
Well, yes. And I love reading about psychology, this is important. And I follow sports. I support some soccer teams. And maybe I don't know, maybe I will find another hobby later on. We'll see.
Iliana Mejia 34:16
Who knows the
Marta DiVito 34:17
There's always time.
Iliana Mejia 34:19
Yeah, you might, who knows you can pick up any any number of things. I know I do. I pick up random things. So you never know it's never too late in life to like find something new.
Absolutely, for instance, skiing or skating because, you know, I used to do that earlier. It's fun.
Marta DiVito 34:39
Yeah. So one last question. Have you faced any challenges in your career because of your visual impairment? If so, how did you overcome them?
Surely I had lots of challenges. Well, my career path is quite unusual because I changed many jobs before I started doing this IT job, this accessibility job because I started as a massage therapist. And then I was working with clients, I was a client manager, I was a training center specialist. And also I was a taxi company control quality service specialist.
I always had to fight for my place in any way. For instance, you know, to prove even that I can do that, or this. And then I was lucky enough to be invited in, for instance, to that DPO but before I had nine months of unemployment, it was a tragedy. And then, you know, it happens that if you do something if you try if you work hard life is, you know, you are becoming fortunate, and you get your chance.
So this is how it is with me right now. Because besides being the accessibility expert for the bank, I am in the team of a similar project, it is a governmental website, you know, where you could get different services online, virtually. It's called mos.ru for people living in Moscow. So, we are making the accessibility of that website so blind people could easily get their doctor's appointments, pay their bills for their electricity, etc, etc. Excuse me, I forgot the words for the water, you know, water bills, and like for gas bills, etc. So we are working on that.
So I would advise people not to stop, just go forward. Because for instance, my dream is to work in an international company, I hope that I will pass the TOEFL test. And my English would allow me to work for English-speaking companies somewhere in the United States or in Canada or wherever. And to, like, maybe it could be a DPO or it could be a company that needs to implement accessibility because I didn't have this experience. And I hope I will have such an experience.
Iliana Mejia 37:54
I believe in you for sure Oksana. And I think that's a wonderful way to kind of end this with such wonderful advice to listeners. Because you're right, everyone should always just keep pushing forward. Absolutely. You have a wonderful spirit and we have loved, absolutely loved having you here today.
Yeah. Don't forget to send us your minute and a half video, you can email it to info that's firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to receiving your videos.
Please share this and ask your friends to subscribe and follow us and enjoy and join us for our next podcast. Bold Blind Beauty On A.I.R. Thanks for listening everyone.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai