Andrea Doshi from Queen Girls: equality, diversity and languages
This week we are thrilled to bring you an interview with Andrea Doshi. Andrea co-founded Queen Girls publications, whose mission, in part, is to create children’s books rich in diversity. She is also a trained speech language pathologist and Spanish language fan! We love Andrea’s outlook on life, her inspirations, her values and the fact she describes herself as a “dream-catching entrepreneur”. But instead of us telling you all about her, read on and found out more for yourselves…
Tell us more about yourself Andrea…
Hi! My name is Andrea and I was born and raised in Chicago by a multicultural family that always encouraged me to follow my heart. My father is Asian-Indian and my mother is American. I believe growing up surrounded by two cultures sparked my curiosity to travel and explore the world. I define myself as a dream-catching entrepreneur, wanderess, and advocate for children. Traveling and the beauty of nature inspire me, and I live by the words of Ghandi, “be the change you wish to see in the world.”
In terms of my education, I obtained my Master’s degree and am a certified Speech Language Pathologist. One of my goals was to become a bilingual (Spanish/English) speech therapist. To accomplish this I studied language differences versus language disorders in bilingual speaking populations in Ecuador for a summer during graduate school. This prepared me to work with bilingual children and families in my field.
Which languages do you and your family speak?
My father speaks English, Gujarati, and Swahili and my mother speaks English. I grew up in a predominantly monolingual household. While I am unable to speak my father’s native tongue, Gujarati, my siblings and I were exposed to it as children. As a young adult, I made it my mission to learn Spanish by studying, living, and traveling in Spanish speaking countries.
Looking back, I would have liked to have grown up bilingual. And while at times I do wish my father had taught us Gujarati, I feel grateful that we were even exposed to the sounds of the language. Newborns are able to detect sounds before they are even born and before they begin speaking. Fascinatingly enough, an infant’s brain can differentiate between all the sounds in every language. This skill is lost as the baby begins to learn and rely on the sounds of the language in which they are exposed.
I came to understand this later in my life. On a trip to India, I wondered how I could feel so comfortable in such a foreign country. I soon realized it was because I was familiar with the different sounds of the language. I realized I could actually understand some of what was being said, and I believe that goes back to my exposure as a child.
As a speech pathologist, what advice do you give bilingual parents who are not sure they want to teach their children two languages or are unsure how to do it?
I tell parents that having the opportunity to teach your child more than one language is a gift! It does not cause language delays and it does not make your child less smart. Here are some tips below:
- Make sure to use both languages from the moment your child is born, so they are exposed to all the sounds in both languages immediately.
- Encourage opportunities for your child to practice both languages in natural and social contexts.
- Speak to your children in the language you feel most comfortable, so you are giving them a solid language base.
What are you doing at present?
The past couple of years I have been traveling extensively around the world. As mentioned earlier, I love being exposed to different languages and cultures, relating and sharing experiences with others. Recently, I was inspired to start my own company with my sister-in-law Jimena. The company is called Queen Girls Publications, and we are creating a movement inspiring girls to follow their dreams by bringing light to gender stereotypes in literature.
Tell us more about Queen Girls…
Queen Girls was born when we realized there is a lack of empowering content for young girls. We felt that this is a time when children need to be empowered the most. Part of our collection is to create children’s books rich in diversity. We want different ethnicities to be represented. We want all children to see themselves pictured in the pages of our books.
The books we create are for children 4-7 years old. Our stories are based on inspirational women from the past and turned into fairy tales. We also believe in giving back to the community and this is why we stand on a One for One model. Every time you purchase a book, another will be donated to local and international organizations that are empowering girls and fighting illiteracy. Our first published book, Bessie, Queen of the Sky, is about Bessie Coleman, the first black female pilot in the world! The next is about to be brought to light. It highlights the life of Isadora Duncan, a woman who defied conventionalist minds by creating what today we refer to as Modern Dance or “Barefoot Style.”
Where do you envision Queen Girls in the future?
We are opening our collection to fellow authors who want to bring their own queens to life. And it’s been a very exciting process! Our ultimate intention is to create a platform where like-minded individuals can share positive content to create awareness about gender stereotypes and help to move children to a place of equality. The new website will be available soon with additional ways to join the movement!
Thanks & gracias Andrea! It’s been a pleasure, and we wish you the best of luck in the future with Queen Girls publications.
For more information on Andrea and Queen girls see below: