Alumni Story: Naomi Tomky '06

As someone who travels around the world learning about culture and cuisine, my LALACS degree gave me the base and background to understand how to consciously and respectfully write about other people's stories.

When I started at Dartmouth I had big plans to be a film studies major and screenwriter. I enrolled in Film 20, the History of Silent Film, a 2A following early morning ski team practices, and quickly aced “falling dead asleep every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon.” I no longer knew where I was going, but I knew it couldn’t involve such comfortable chairs.

Then I stumbled into LACS 4, tumbling into the works of Aimé Césaire and Eduardo Galeano, before moving on to the literature of Latin America. I did the FSP in Uruguay and then read Isabel Allende and Mario Vargas Llosa to the sound of thumping reggaeton on thirty-hour bus rides up the Andes and down to the Caribbean.

After I graduated, my career took something of a winding path, eventually landing me as a full-time food and travel writer for publications like Saveur, Food & Wine, and Fodor’s. I occasionally employ my degree directly, like using the entire class I took on Cien Años de Soledad to make a million references in a piece on Colombian coffee (that likely few people caught). But more often it influences my work in a subtler way, giving me the framework and language to write about other people’s food traditions in ways that respect the roots and ownership of cultures around the world.