We had the good fortune of connecting with Sarah van Slagmaat and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sarah, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
The launch of my podcast Catch Up Crew has had a pretty long journey. I moved to Los Angeles from the Netherlands in November 2018. I have always worked with children, but with my visa I wasn’t allowed to work anymore. During the pandemic, I realized that there was a lot going on in our world and many parents and educators were having a hard time communicating this to their children. Heavy stuff like the pandemic, but also the protests last summer and the then upcoming election. In the Netherlands we have a daily news broadcast especially for kids and I used to love watching those. So, I started to wonder if the US had something similar and discovered that there wasn’t much out there. I asked around and gathered a group of women that were all enthusiastic about the idea of creating something to jump into this gap, all with their own expertises to add. From there we pretty quickly decided to start out with a podcast and a few weeks later our first episode launched. Now we’re a year further and still growing strong. Our episodes cover the biggest news stories of the week in an understandable way, plus we always discuss some fun news. Every episode ends with one of our young listeners bringing us THEIR news; 14-year-old climate activist Catarina Lorenzo, also 14-year-old Nijel Murray who collects clothes and provides foster children new clothing and 16 year-old Ian McKenna who’s using his growing powers for good!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I started my career as a Music Teacher in Special Education. I love how music can teach children a whole lot of things all at once, often without them even realizing it: language, non-verbal communication, motor skills, listening to each other, expressing your emotions, expressing your opinions, working together and presenting yourself, to name a few. Working in Special Education I realized I missed some theoretical knowledge about child development and different developmental, emotional and behavioral disorders I faced at the schools I worked at. So I decided to get my Masters degree in Orthopedagogy, or Clinical Child, Family and Education Studies and got a job as an Orthopedagogue in Special Education (comparable to a combination of a school psychologist, dean of students and special education specialist). When making the move to the US to support my husbands career, I realized that this position isn’t translatable. The job search therefore has been a though one, first applying for the green card, then figuring out the credentialing and education systems in California. In the meantime, I couldn’t sit still and started Catch Up Crew, a news podcast for children. Now, the end of my ‘unemployed’ period has come to an end and I started a new job as an Education Specialist, advocating for Foster Youth in the LA education system!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I LOVE it when people visit and I get a chance to show them around. For me the highlights of LA are definitely not the ones you’ll find in most tourist guides, so I wrote my own little LA guide to share with friends and family (or anyone who shows any interest), which I share on my blog: https://sarahinlalala.blogspot.com/ A few of the must sees are: Griffith Observatory (preferably during a hike), The Broad Museum, The Getty Center, The Huntington Library, The Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Pacific Ocean (preferably far away from Venice, like in Malibu or at the Annenberg Community Center (shush, don’t tell anyone about this one!)).
I also love to explore the city by taking a hike and have a favorite hike for everyone, depending on their situation and preferences (with or without kids, long or short, shadowy or full sun), but some of my favorite are the hike up to the Hollywood sign, the Boy Scout Trail in Griffith and a hike in ‘my backyard’ in Altadena in the Angeles National Forest.
One of the things I like about living in LA is the diversity in food. My local ‘little’ town of Altadena/Pasadena already has so much to offer. Favorites are Maestro, Pizza of Venice, Perle, Tibet Nepal House, Tacos Poncitlan, Din Tai Fung and Ramen Tatsunoya. I also like to take visiting friends to our local farmers’ markets, to get a taste of the local vibes, like the ones in Altadena, Pasadena and South Pasadena. Too much to do, see and eat!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I couldn’t have started my podcast, or kept motivated to keep trying to find my place in the LA work field, if it wasn’t for my amazing team of talented friends; Sarah Ngo, Savannah Jackson Ngo and Anna Hayes Campa. They all have been so dedicated in helping me out, all in their free time and with no financial rewards. Without their support, hard work and constructive feedback, the podcast wouldn’t have come of the ground and possibly I would have been back in the Netherlands. Also a great support have been Ella Matkin, our high school intern, and the whole Ngo-Matkin family. It feels so good and is so vital for someone moving to a new country to have a surrogate family to help you feel at home and supported.
Logo and quote cards by Sarah Ngo