Alumnus nears ‘renaissance’ project’s end


Nathaniel Kostar has taken it upon himself to become the modern-day “renaissance man.” He has traveled around the world to learn a variety of new skills and become well-rounded.

“A renaissance man is someone who is curious and concerned with becoming well-rounded. The idea that a man can do anything if he puts his mind to it,” said Kostar, a Rutgers alumnus.

Kostar said a renaissance man today should know something about music, art, poetry, science and philosophy. He does not consider himself a renaissance man — yet.

“I am interested in the ideas of renaissance, maybe one day someone will be able to say that I am a renaissance man and I can agree without laughing,” Kostar said.

For now, he said he is learning and studying the ways being a renaissance man can improve his own life.

Four years ago, he never touched an instrument or did anything with music.

“About six months ago, I studied music for a month in New Orleans,” Kostar said. “Now I perform with a band down there.”

Kostar said experience alone has made his life a lot more expansive than before.

Before New Orleans, Kostar learned Thai kickboxing in Thailand, poetry in Italy and art in France, according to gogetfunding.com, the website that Kostar uses to promote his project.

Kostar said he plans to visit the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean islands next to learn salsa, according the site.

 “So far I have been able to raise about $1,000 for the fifth month,” Kostar said.

Until recently, Kostar said his travels have been funded with his salary and his savings.

When Kostar started, he was optimistic he would be able to complete his trek in six months to a year, he said.

“But I started about three years ago, and I still have two months left,” he said.

He hopes his family, friends and people who have heard about his project will fund the remaining time.

Justin Kishbaugh, Kostar’s friend, said he first met Kostar while studying in Italy.

“I met him in Italy, when he was a part of the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Project,” said Kishbaugh, a Ph.D. candidate at Duquesne University. “We stayed in a castle in northern Italy to study creative writing.”

Kishbaugh said Kostar provides a role model in the way he has gone about fulfilling his overall goal to become well-rounded person.

“He has inspired me to vary up my experiences when I travel,” Kishbaugh said.

Kostar said he hopes he can also inspire college students in harsh economic times.

In an era when college education has become unaffordable, Kostar said many people are graduating with high debt.

“I am [a] part of that generation,” Kostar said

He thinks colleges can sometimes be important, but hopes people can look at other ways of educating themselves with opportunities all over the world.

 “You can go and learn something that they might not be teaching you at your 101 courses at Rutgers,” Kostar said.

Kostar is in pursuit of health and happiness, according to his site.

“Look at the things that really do make you happy,” he said. “History has shown us that chasing after money and only wanting money has never really proven to bring people happiness.”

Kostar said that to him, kindness and interacting with his fellow human beings — friends and strangers alike — is what brings him happiness.

“I do not know if happiness is, say a mountaintop you reach and once you get there you’re there. ... Everyone goes through times when you’re happy and you’re not,” Kostar said.


By Danielle Gonzalez

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