Beyond Vassar

Having a Vision

By Sarah E. Brown

Will Mandeville ’83 may have an ethnic and cultural background that’s somewhat homogeneous — he describes himself as a “WASP from New England” — but his life and his work are anything but.

Mandeville’s wife, Maribel, is from northwest Mexico; their three children, he says, are “truly bicultural.” And just this past year, inspired by his experiences raising a culturally blended family, Mandeville launched, an online resource and blog community for families and children of interracial and multicultural backgrounds.

Vassar, Mandeville says, played no small part in expanding his view and understanding of the world. While an undergraduate, Mandeville knew that the college was something “unique” — a community that “celebrated diversity,” and that was “full of interesting and diverse people from across the country and the globe,” he says. “It was a place open to debate, dialogue, and people unafraid to question and meet and explore people from other cultures.That openness, he says, “was a mentality that I took with me when I entered the business world.”

After graduating, Mandeville worked in business overseas for a while. He and Maribel, his future wife, met in Italy, to which they’d both been assigned by a U.S.-based intercultural program.  Since marrying and having children, the two have had to blend everything: “our cultures, foods, languages, and lifestyles,” says Mandeville. It was the challenges and rewards of their blended home that drove him to create an online community for fathers, mothers, and children whose lives might be different in the specifics from theirs, but who had similar stories to tell. “I wanted to create something that was a reflection of our lives,” he says, “and that would help give voice to other people with blended families.”

The slogan, “expand your focus,” entices visitors to take part in a process of information sharing and spreading multicultural awareness. The website publishes articles about everything blurred, blended, and mixed imaginable — from entrepreneurial ventures to hair care to music. It also incorporates a unique locally based social networking feature that allows users to log in and connect with one another online or in their hometowns.

“The site is unapologetically optimistic,” says Mandeville. “I didn’t like reading negative media content on race and immigration. I wanted the site to start from a constructive place, looking for solutions and not harping on the divisive nature of culture.” In providing culturally diverse people a place where they can connect on many levels, Mandeville hopes they will collaborate on projects aimed at giving back to the places they live and the communities to which they belong. “We are dedicated to inclusion of all types of blended families, and connecting people in positive ways,” he says.

Currently, is run by team of people that rotates “depending on how much capital we have at a time.” The business is still in its early stages, says Mandeville, “so you learn how to be industrious. My wife and I currently do most of the writing and editing.” Mandeville hopes eventually to keep the site running by seeking out advertisers interested in marketing their products to a multicultural audience. But, he is quick to add, “the foundation [of the site] will always be on building community.”