Afsy Kafei's preserving the world's cultural treasures
Name: Afsy Kafei
Hometown: Quito, Ecuador
Current city: Brooklyn, NY
How I pay the bills.
Preserving the world's cultural treasures.
How I got here.
I moved to Brooklyn for my Master's in Historic Preservation. Without a real plan after graduation, I stuck around NYC after meeting people in my field who offered me part-time jobs (though related to my field, these were definite side hustles!). At one point I held positions at three different preservation non-profits in the city, and then one lucky day a former professor from grad school offered me a position at my current place of work—my dream place to work for. The work I do now is on an international scale, working with communities around the world and empowering them as stewards of their cultural heritage. I'm lucky to be surrounded by many cultures and stunning sites on a daily basis, and knowing that my small contribution has played a part in the preservation and conservation of a place full of history and beauty is a really incredible feeling to bring home.
How I'm working to make the world a more fair place for women and girls.
My job has really honed in the possibilities of what historic preservation can achieve—preserving a cultural heritage site should not be the end goal, but rather the end goal should always empowering communities through preservation. Last year we highlighted women who work in the field of cultural heritage preservation from countries like Japan, Egypt and Myanmar, whose roles are traditionally held by men in their countries. The power of elevating these narratives was clear: the more examples we see of women around the world holding positions like these, the possibilities these positions will bring to women.
What makes me proud.
I'm immensely proud of being a multi-cultural immigrant, having been born in Ecuador to an Ecuadorian mother and an Iranian father and later moving to the USA at ten years old. Growing up, the conversation in my house was never about the limitations we'd face as immigrants, but rather the opportunities this country could give us despite our background. One of my proudest moments was telling my parents I'd been hired to work in an office in the Empire State Building-- in my parent's eyes, the visuals of this was the pinnacle of the American dream.
Where to find me online: @afsita