Seen & Heard

Odyssey scholar Katherine Quintero, ’13, on Bollywood dancing and Central American land reform.

Photo by Jason Smith


Where did you get that dress?

In Goa. I spent three days there during study abroad in Pune. I saw this and automatically fell in love. It cost $6.

What did you like most about India?

Being able to travel so much—just to get in a rickshaw and go downtown, or take a train out to the caves. In a way you can do that in Chicago, but it’s not as liberating as it is in a place that’s so unfamiliar.

You performed in the South Asian Students Association annual show. Was it hard to learn Bollywood-style dancing?

I have terrible muscle memory and I don’t do well with choreography at all. And some of the dance moves are unnatural. When I’m dancing salsa, that just comes to me. But I got it by the end, more or less.

Backstage before the show, everyone was so excited. To use a real UChicago term, it was an example of Durkheim’s collective effervescence.

Your backpack is enormous. How much does it weigh?

Ten, 15 pounds, maybe? I have a couple of books for a paper about Cuban and Costa Rican land reform practices. [Actually, there were seven books weighing at least 25 pounds.—Ed.]

Spanish is your first language, right?

Yes. I moved to the United States from Colombia when I was seven. My mom actually came to Atlanta first, but it was too cold for her, so she had to go to Miami.

You have an Odyssey Scholarship. How has that affected your college experience?

It can be intimidating when you find out that other students’ parents are diplomats or CEOs. But the Odyssey program helps put students like me at the same level.

What did your mother think about your move to Chicago?

In many Hispanic families, there’s this mentality that you stay with your family. I know the distance is hard for her, but it was an amazing opportunity. Miami is like northern South America—it’s a completely different culture. I guess I wanted to see what the US was really like.