When you’re a kid, you dream of doing many things. From being an astronaut to a physician, you create a list of all the crazy and most amazing things you’d like to do. I too created this list and as cliché, as it may sound, added to my very own bucket list traveling to and visiting each of the seven continents. Making the world’s wonders my playground, I imagined myself sitting atop the Great Wall of China and canoeing across the Nile. A difficult challenge for any one person, but a viable possibility all the same, I was determined that traveling abroad would not remain a fantasy and instead become my reality.
However, during my time at Morehouse College, my goal of going abroad would often fade away as my workload increased. You see, being a biology major offered little to no room to do a full semester abroad, yet I knew there had to be away. The opportunity to go abroad would later reveal itself in winter break excursions. These 18 to 25 day voyages allow students the chance to travel to various countries in a speed dating fashion. Very grateful, but after visiting 16 countries, I still felt dissatisfied. While these trips offered snapshots into what life would be like outside of the U.S., I wanted more. I wanted to feel what the people in other countries felt and grow culturally relative to things I could not see in just a day or two. I wanted to be fully engulfed in an abroad experience and take the plunge.
So, after I realized my life’s calling was not to become a physician, I decided to defer my degree for one year to further my education and travel abroad. Explaining this to friends and family was no easy feat due to the stigma placed on fifth years, yet I had to do this for myself. I wanted more time to solidify my postgraduate plans with a new focus on media and television and work toward making this transition seamless. After finding a way to walk with my incoming class and receive my honors, I finally had it all planned out.
Eager for this experience to commence, I would read all the websites and blogs preparing for my trip. Somewhere between excited and enthusiastic, nervousness would set in and cause a sense of doubt. In setting sites on China and South Africa, I never imagined what race would look like in either. I wanted to think of both as an oasis for people of color, yet realized that racism and prejudice were very real things in each country. Seeing the world from a different perspective began to seem like experiencing the world from different points of isolation.
Not one to let negative energy evade my soul, I had to rid myself of this fear and remind myself of the impact this journey would inspire. This trip isn’t just for me, it’s also for my cousins yet to be born and my friends who believe that they could never travel outside of Louisiana’s parishes. This is the opportunity of a lifetime and I am beyond ecstatic for what is to come. I now stand ready and look forward to the life-enhancing experiences that lay before me.
Blog post commissioned by Black Beyond Borders.