Cultural Trauma with Lissarette Nisnevich

Cultural Trauma with Lissarette Nisnevich

We are highlighting a previous episode of the ¿Quién Tú Eres? podcast, where we explore the conflict we often face between "professionalism" & being our authentic selves.

Lissarette Nisnevich was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. Growing up in poverty and with little resources, she focused on her studies from a young age. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD in developmental psychology and with a Masters in Early Childhood Education. With this, she aims to bring parents resources she believes are critical for their children's development. After living in 30 different countries, she decided to settle down and start a family of her own. With the birth of her son, the idea of starting her own Daycare, Preschool and Kindergarten was born as well. Her aspirations are to help the future generations reach their maximum potential. 

In this conversation, Lissarette Nisnevich takes us on a journey through her experience between professionalism and authenticity.


These are some of the episode highlights:

For Lissarette, authenticity means to not be afraid. For a long time, authentic identity has been a struggle between who she is, who she wants to be, and who she was told she should be. Lissarette says, “Being authentic means to really be who I am but when I do that, I scare people.” And so that means she’d rather go with what she should be or what she’s told to be, than to embrace who she really is. She says, “If I could choose authentic, I choose to just be me, free, happy, me.” 

Lissarette touches upon the fact that at some point everyone is scared to be who they are. She believes that this fear is culture based as she remembers that while growing up she never wanted to disappoint the people who raised her. She states, “So, I was always trying to do what they wanted me to do.” As many of us who do not understand the concept of authenticity usually do as well. Therefore, we are constantly in a state of people pleasing and walking around like a masked version of ourselves. 

Lissarette says there exists a conflict between the things that are expected and the things you truly want to do or say, as a result, she feels that, In the end, you really have to choose happiness. You have to choose yourself.” Additionally, Lisarette feels that some people go through life without ever really experiencing happiness because they don't allow themselves to be without fear of  judgment and the ever critical voices in our heads.   

Born in a third world country, an unsafe safe to be a girl, Lissaretter remembers how her mother always instilled fear in her by always pushing her to play it safe, “She was afraid of letting me be,” says Lisarette.  

Recounting on how there were so many rules and expectations for her. She touches on the fact that as a girl, you’re supposed to keep your mouth shut and not reveal any secrets, especially if they involve inappropriate behaviors from male relatives. Lisarette says, “Everybody has the story of a cousin or a neighbor or somebody who did something they shouldn’t have done.” And when the girls speak out on the misconduct, they are expected to sweep it under the rug because conversations like these are taboo. 

Lissarette believes it is imperative to respect children’s boundaries and that we must have more conversations especially because, “We still have this old school mentality in our culture that says, children are not allowed to have a say,” states Lissarette. As children we are taught and expected to obey and do, simply because the adult says so. 

We don’t know how to separate listening from obey. Lissarette feels we need to create better relationships with children and teach them that they have an opinion even if we don't agree with it. “Children need conversations because we can not expect a human being to just follow a command,” says Lissarette. 

Like many of us, Lissarette didn’t grow up with a dad and as an only child, she didn’t have siblings either. Therefore, she was learning who to be from the media, which was teaching her that in order to be beautiful she should relax her hair and avoid too much exposure to the sun, “But when you’re young, you listen to whatever sounds right. Even after following the trends, I was not happy. I didn’t feel like myself,” reminisces Lissarette.

Finding yourself in a place that’s constantly telling you who you are supposed to be takes a lot of courage especially when you come from broken homes or from families that don't provide much support. 

Lissarette recounts how much she struggled with her old identity when she first arrived in America. She felt like a snake shedding its skin and it allowed her to transition from the person who she thought she should be to the person she felt happy to be. 

What Lissarette noticed while living in countries like China, Korea, and Japan was that everyone there was obsessed with youth and light skin. She also noticed there are so many cultural and social constructs that were not right and thus she couldn't consciously continue living there. 

Lissarette feels that one shouldn’t be confined to cultural practices that you know are wrong. She goes on to say, “I believe that the new generations in all of these countries are really trying to break free and sometimes they are held back by parents and other members of the family.” 

Lissarette joyfully shares how children inspire her to be her authentic self because she feels, “They need to see that they can too. They need to see that they are wonderful humans and are allowed. There’s a place for them in stories, in success, everywhere.” Lissarette has always felt an urge to inspire a child, to impart positive inspiration into someone who’s coming up so they can use that in the future to say, “I know who I am, I found who I am. No one can break me.” 


Lissarette Nisnevich inspires us to change the narrative by showing up as our authentic selves. Make sure to connect with Lissarette on her website

Listen to this episode to learn more about her journey: Spotify & Apple Podcasts

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