When I leave Amsterdam

That's the thing about going abroad...it doesn't matter that our family and friends might not understand everything we have gone through. We understand it. It was our journey. Coming home isn't the end--it's the beginning.

Feelings from Exile: Bring Back the Riches of Africa to My Community

I cannot wrap my head around the fact that my time here in Africa is over. It has been four months since my departure from America and I have learned, grown and really been able to be a sponge to the culture, experiences and way of living here. However, I cannot help but feel a myriad of different emotions now that I am returning from my “self-imposed exile” and re-entering life as a Black American. After a long time trying to process my emotions, I came up with five multifaceted points I am experiencing now that I am about to depart...

Living as the "Hyphen" in African-American

I was detained in the United Kingdom and believed to have been an immigrant. Even with my American passport as “proof” of my country of origin, I was pushed to answer endless questions my reasoning for coming to Europe. Though I was eventually allowed to leave, I walked away with an immigration stamp in my passport. 

10 Pieces of Advice for Traveling to Buenos Aires

10. Prepare for “Overly” Affectionate People

When I say “overly affectionate” I mean that in the most positive way. Argentines are the most charismatic and affectionate people I’ve experienced. The tight embrace and kiss on the cheek when they first meet you is a glimpse of how affectionate they are. They love to talk, and ask questions- and even offer suggestions although you may not have asked. In the United States sometimes we can come off as very cold, with a simple “Hello” or handshake and then we are on our way. In Argentina, a simple “Cheee como andas?” opens up the door for conversations and sharing that turns into a meaning 5 minutes. The people of Buenos Aires are some of the warmest inviting people that I have encountered and I am beyond thankful that I was able to spend 5 months experiencing their culture.

10 Things I Learned Living in Rwanda

10. Why fit into a standard, when you are your own standard?

My freshman year of college, I made a list of all the achievements I wanted to attain by the graduation and I brought the list with me. I ripped up the list after the third week here. I felt like I had to attain these accolades to validate my success, but it’s MY SUCCESS. There is no template or silhouette that I, my success or my experiences should fit into. Sometimes, I would compare myself amongst my peers or people I seen as model individuals, but we are own our own paths and we cannot be afraid to follow it.

The Almost Porteño

However, though most of my classes are in English, my Castellano (Spanish) has greatly improved since arriving to Argentina. For those with a strong desire to travel , I recommend that you first develop a basic understanding of a nation’s culture and language before traveling. This foundation has allowed me to not only improve my language skills, but also meet and interact more efficiently with the people living here. Whether you’re asking for directions when you get lost (which will most likely happen), or having the tools to know when you are being overcharged at a restaurant, these skills matter.

It Took Leaving to Teach Me

Even though there are some hardships throughout this process, everyday I realize how much peace I have found in being alone. I grasp how much growth and confidence I have gained as a result of picking myself up and standing up for myself. At the end of the day,  I can surely say that making the decision to study abroad has been one of the best  I could have made.

Life After Death: Learning How to Cope With Loss Through Experience

To anybody who has lost a parent, sibling, child, or a friend, the pain can seem unbearable. Yet, what I have realized is the hardest thing to learn is that they are never really gone away. Why? Because as long as you keep them in your heart, their memory will live on forever. After my mother died, I thought God wanted me to heal people like her, but in reality, He wanted me to heal people like me. People who have been touched by death and sorrow and sometimes feel there is no way out. Yet, there is a way out – through! Life abroad has taught me this.  So feel the pain and the heartache, let it all in and then let it all go. You are still here to keep the memory of the one you lost alive, so do a service to you by keeping them alive by being purposeful in what you do.

Being African-American in Africa

It’s beautiful. In America, I was always trying to gain: gain more opportunities, more accolades and more material things to show how successful I am, but I was incognizant that I was losing one important thing: time. Time to be thankful for what I have achieved and spend valuable moments with the ones I love and who love me. Rwanda has allowed for me to not plan life anymore, just be available for it.

Finding a Home in a Foreign Space

To me what is most interesting is although we all come from different backgrounds, we all share one common identity as black women that creates a unifying factor. Aspects of life that we have to overcome or struggle with as black women creates an open space for us to share, which is hard to find in a country where there aren’t many black women. It’s something that is refreshing and encouraging that I am able to articulate my thoughts or concerns in a safe haven.

Show the World What we Have to Offer

I believe there must be a broader movement to attack this issue. Hearing this out of the mouth of a very esteemed individual who President Barack Obama appointed to represent the United States in Argentina, I was, to say the least, very disappointed with his response. I proceeded to inform him about our mission at Black Beyond Borders to promote the expansion of black faces abroad and international experiences for African American students. He believed this was a terrific idea, but I still questioned what he would do to address the issue.