Julia Hodgins was recently interviewed by TheCelebrity.Online and below is the Q&A session we had with her.
Julia Hodgins As Cover Story Feature – May 2023 Edition
How do you introduce yourself?
Julia Hodgins: My name is Julia Hodgins. Before marrying, I used to go by my second given name, Mariuska; many people still recognize me by it. After moving to Canada, I switched tousing my first name and adopted my husband’s last name. I am a social researcher and analyst with taste for communications and an addiction to strategy and planning. I have been fortunate enough to work in private, public and non-profit sectors. Though my luckiest shot is having met many people, learnt from and alongside them, and still have them in my life. I am a believer in community, we are nothing without others.
By education, I am a sociologist and recently completed an MA in International Affairs. Previously I studied Marketing and Humanities. I am the Deputy of Research in ITSS Verona, the International Team for the Study of Security, a non-profit and volunteer-based think-tank, my current focus is leading a research for the United Nations Counter Terrorism Directorate. I strive to enjoy what I do, paid or volunteer. I design, manage, and conduct research studies end-to-end, communicate ideas and content, build community, and layout plans to stir their direction later if necessary! Basically, I made a career bycombining my curiosity and resourcefulness with a genuine interest on helping people. Think of me as a nerdy curious cat that likes people.
Childhood to Adulthood – How was your transition from childhood to adulthood and what are the bad and good things you remember?
Julia Hodgins: I was born and raised in Lima, Peru, the fifth of six siblings, in a conservative, sort of “old-school” family. Chances are you already suspect I am the black sheep, the weird sister, proudly Yes! My mom is a teacher who made a career in public service, my dad is a retiree entrepreneur and is a published poet, his texts are considered to be Damn Poetry, influenced by Rilke, Baudelaire, Borges, and Vallejo.
My parents tell an eloquent story of their weird daughter (me). When I was three years old daddy and I were watching TV and mom came to “pamper” his feet with baby powder. I turned to her and inquired, “Why do you treat him like a baby? He is a grown-up!” One of my finest hours! I also remember that no matter how big the new dining table, we always outgrew it… I also cherish my childhood playing outdoors – no cell phone – and watching movies with subtitles.
Bad things I remember, being raised with gender inequality at home, more from mom than from dad. Naturally, I left earlier than expected. Retrospectively, I think leaving home at early age was one of the wisest decisions I made. Another unlikable thing I remember from my late teens is the racism I started discovering. What I mean by that is, after entering university to study philosophy, the exposure to social science and reflection led me to rediscover my environment and come to see how racist my country is, even my family! My commitment to counter racism and discrimination started then, social inequalitiesare a thorn in my heart, and a big frustration. It became clearer once I left Peru and experienced it in my own skin. Today, pursuing equality, antiracism, and antidiscrimination are sources of inspiration and strength in my life.
Struggle – What hardships have you gone through in life?
Julia Hodgins: Leaving home in the middle of socio-political conflict – the “Age of the Bombs” as we call the time when Shining Path was attacking daily – alongside gender inequality at tectonic levels in the peruvian marketplace, adding to that a concomitant instability of the economy… that made me an adult fast: find a steady job to support myself, manage a budget without social benefits (taken for granted elsewhere), make someone better out of myself by studying hard, take good care of my wellbeing.
Surviving gender-based violence and abuse was another struggle. While I hope it would not have happened, I am thankful for the people and resources that came my way, supporting my healing, and leading me to smile and find new doors. As I said, we are nothing without others, especially women, strong women on whose footprints you step and find guidance, and support to go further, compassionate and empathetic women besides who you find the means to rebuild yourself.
Quitting smoking was a hard one… withdrawal is hell! The day I quit I discovered,
1. That I was an addict, no different than any other addiction
2. That I did not have willpower at all but I could start growing it ‘One day at a time’ no matter how painfully.
Immigrating is a big challenge too, but I am lucky to have come to Canada hand-to-hand with a loving and caring man.
However, perhaps the most significant struggle I had yet to overcome happened after I married. Like every other couple, we expected to build a family out of our love, except I could not have children. I remember when my doctor called me to say that IVF did not work for me and would not… My life blew into zillions of pieces. Do you remember the twin tower collapsing on 9/11? That was me right there and then. Before rebuilding myself from scratch, I had to find those zillion pieces that blew out during that explosive phone call. Time stopped… That was a real ordeal, a re-birthing journey, an entire power cycle and reset. There is no book or protocol for that, and there is too much cacophony, all these toxic theories about womanhood, family, love, and happiness; these traps sabotage our smile.
Again, after being fortunate to listen to other women’s wisdom, I decided to live my ‘happily ever after’ childless. We decided to play the hand we were given just for the fun of playing it to the best. We learned that the grass is green on both sides as long as you water and care for it. Being childless is not better neither worse, it is a different pathwithout a manual for sure, you write your manual and draw your map as you walk the terrain! perhaps that’s what makes it so sweet, especially with the right company.
What do people usually not know about you?
Julia Hodgins: That I was a firewalking instructor once, and a proud edge-walker though I am still afraid of mice. Do not mention rats! Maybe that’s why I am a devoted cat-o-holic.
What sets you apart from your competitors in the industry and in life?
Julia Hodgins: That I play by the rules, care for all: my peers, my interviewees, readers, family and friends; and that I leave it all in the field.
What are your upcoming major events – Unforgettable Moments or products/services that you want to promote/inform?
Julia Hodgins: I will teach cyber strategy, research skills, and equality matters in ITSS Verona Summer School this June-July 2023. I encourage you to promote that ITSS Verona offers scholarships for students from African countries and from Peru. I have a forthcoming article in ITSS Magazine of International Security. In early September, I will present a piece of research at the RIVAS Conference 2023 – Raising Indigenous Voices in Academia and Society, organized by the Univ. of Montana.
One of my most memorable moments is when I walked the stage on my graduation of the Masters, a longtime-held dream. While I had already received the parchment, it became R-E-A-L at that point of the ceremony.
A special memory is the docu-podcast “Indigenous Languages in Music” I produced when volunteering in CiVL Radio. Also. with CiVL’s support, during 2014-2018, I produced and hosted “iheartlatinamerica”, a weekly radio show of music and dialogue about my beloved region. It provided me with immense learning opportunities, fun, and lifetime friends and community.
What are your food preferences and physical attributes? (optional)
Julia Hodgins: Food: I am an intolerant gourmet! While I have some food alerts and allergies, I eat like a Scooby Doo, just watching the ingredients. Thus, we mostly eat home-cooked meals. Food is an unparalleled pleasure and another source of curiosity and antic for me.
I am short in size. Though I lack height, I overcompensate with curiosity and lovely shoes.
Your love life, relationships and family?
Julia Hodgins: Do not want to sound corny or conventional but I am lucky to have Mark. He and our very spoiled cat are the best life company I could have asked for. We have an unusual distribution of work (thanks to Mark we have blooming plants and yard). Our power structure is dissident too: Ramses the Great (the cat) at the top, Mark and I equally subjected to the paw.
What expert advice would you like to give?
Julia Hodgins: Develop a relationship with your most inner self, find your inner silence and hear it attentively. Follow thy wisdom for the answers to your questions and concerns are there. The rest is no more than incidental noise.
Your social media handles and website links?