"Life may be simpler, but it would be so much duller if we were all the same."

Nina Tarr. Photo credit: Christina Franusich
Nina Tarr. Photo credit: Christina Franusich

In a 2017 post to the ExperienceVT blog, Nina Tarr wrote, “I’ve travelled to more than 25 countries in my life and I’ve lived in three, but I’ve never had the opportunity to live in an environment quite like Mozaiko.”

Mozaiko is a global living-learning community for students from all majors who are interested in international affairs, foreign languages, and intercultural leadership. Last year, as a first-year student, Nina boldly took on the role of president of the Mozaiko Leadership Council – a decision that shaped not only her Virginia Tech experience, but that of her fellow students, and, ultimately, the character and future of Mozaiko.

Nina grew up in Vicenza, Italy. After taking two “gap years” after high school, Nina came to Virginia Tech. She recalled, “I was scared that if I moved into a regular residence hall, I would have trouble meeting people my age. I was afraid that I would feel too ‘international’ in a regular residence hall, but too American in an international residence hall. I finally decided to apply to Mozaiko. And I’m so glad I did. It gave me the opportunity to live the best of every world. I’ve gotten to know people from different ages, races, religions, countries, and majors. I’m not sure I would have met them if it weren’t for Mozaiko.”

As a founding leader in the community, Nina wrote the first constitution for the Mozaiko Leadership Council. She said, “Trying to make decisions and find compromises with people who have multiple different ideas was more difficult than I expected. But it’s opened my eyes and my mind to so much more than I could ever imagine. It’s easy to say that you are tolerant and understanding of other people and other cultures, but it is another thing to live it and to feel yourself become a more accepting person.

“Life may be simpler, but it would be so much duller if we were all the same. I’m grateful to Virginia Tech for giving us a place to experience this. But most of all, I’m grateful for Mozaiko for giving me another home to add to my list.”

Nina is a sophomore majoring in human development with a minor in political science and is a member of the Honors College. In addition to remaining involved with Moziako as a Language Leader, Nina is a Global Ambassador for Cranwell International Center. Last summer she travelled to Tanzania as a member of Service Without Borders and was chosen to be co-leader of the Tanzania Project for the 2018-2019 academic year. Nina writes the monthly “Student Perspective” column for the Hokie Family eNews, giving families a view of student life at Virginia Tech.

Nina’s approach to life is this: “Do things that make you nervous. Trust your instincts and values. Stay true to yourself. Be kind – to others and to yourself. Allow yourself to be exposed to new ideas. Never stop learning.”

As her nominator wrote, “There are times when leaders must challenge and times when we must support. Nina beautifully balances both.”