Student group aims to share cultural knowledge on a global scale

November 19, 2021

Just before the COVID-19 pandemic sent Sun Devils virtual, ASU student Anusha Natarajan was hard at work building a team to help execute her vision for a better way to teach and discuss cultural studies. Natarajan, a junior studying sociology and history, was inspired by her love of travel to build a platform where students from around the world could trade knowledge and have discussions about their respective cultures. 

After recruiting her friend Milla Nguyen, a junior studying fashion design and film and media production, the two put in over a year and a half of work. Anusha’s vision became what is now CultureTalk, an online community where students from around the world can create content and have discussions about all the things that make up a culture. 

The CultureTalk leadership team celebrates the group’s one-year anniversary.

Culture Talk’s content usually falls into one of six different areas: heritage, trends, history, government, law and geography. According to Natarajan, the group focuses on these six areas in order to delve deeply into and get a full picture when looking at different cultures. 

In order to help manage and produce the content released by CultureTalk, Natarajan and Nguyen put together a team of more than 30 other students from various backgrounds, majors and other universities such as Yale and the University of Arizona. Natarajan said that the team has even been successful in recruiting members internationally, with part of the team being students from universities in India, Brazil and France, among other countries. 

“Our work is really exciting because it’s really cool to learn about their perspectives and contribute some of their culture and stories into CultureTalk,” Natarajan said. “We want to celebrate that heritage and inform people about the power and importance of diversity.”

CultureTalk initially started out as just a blog, but after Natarajan began building a team, the website evolved. Some projects that the team has taken on include a magazine and podcast. According to Natarajan, the monthly magazine typically corresponds to a theme. Examples include issues for Native American Heritage Month, Hispanic Heritage Month and Black History Month.

According to Natarajan and Nguyen, much of CultureTalk’s premise has been influenced by their own struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic and the political unrest that went on throughout the year and carried over into 2021. 

“It’s been a really great experience to work with Anusha on CultureTalk because I think everyone knows how much 2020 affected people as a whole, especially in regard to politics and the pandemic, especially for college students like us who were not able to go to school in person. [It’s important to us] to create a community and creative space where people are able to feel comfortable and safe and share stories that aren’t typically talked about,” Nguyen said. 

In addition to creating important content, Nguyen said that she would like to help CultureTalk become a more collaborative space where people of all educational backgrounds can develop and express creativity in different ways.

“Lots of people think that if they have one major, their talents or hobbies only have to pertain to that major. CultureTalk is like a call to bring students who felt discouraged [during the pandemic],” Nguyen said. 

Last year, CultureTalk received a $500 grant from Changemaker Central’s Civic Engagement Community Action Grant. According to Natarajan, the grant money has been put to use in getting equipment to start up CultureTalk’s magazine and podcast. 

As the organization grows, Natarajan hopes to work with faculty to help conduct diversity audits and work with coalitions to help plan cultural celebration events. In addition to this, the group is planning workshops and webinars in addition to the content it already releases. Learn more at CultureTalk.