The content of each post is solely written by that contributor and only expresses the contributor's personal views. Each post does not represent the views of all the contributors or Women of Color Living Abroad as an organization. Each contributor is speaking from their own person experiences and/or perspective.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Why Traveling Is Important

10 Reasons to Travel

March 8, 2014
By Cha Jones

I believe that traveling is essential to one’s personal growth and development. When you travel, you see
things from your own personal perspective and often that changes how you think about yourself and others. Traveling also allows you to the opportunity to meet new people and taste foods that you may have never tried before. However, traveling might be the very thing you need to help you rediscover yourself.

Here my top 10 reasons why you should travel…

  1.  You think you know everything….when you travel you will being to understand that you know very little and that you can learn something new. You don’t have to venture far; sometimes you can learn something by just taking a walk in your community. So, take a trip through your own community and discover something new.  
  2.   Meet new people….tired of the same boring conversations, then travel and meet some new characters in your book of LIFE. People are interesting and if you don’t travel and meet new people from different backgrounds, religions, cultures, experiences, or races, then you stay confined to what you know (see reason #1).
  3. Get connected….are you feeling a little disconnected? Travel allows you the opportunity to connect with other people, taste their food, and learn how they live by interacting with them in their community.
  4.  Helps you appreciate what you have…when you see people who have less than you, and they make wonderful things happen without complaint, it gives you a different perspective. You begin to realize that you have a great deal to be thankful for in life. Often times you take for granted that you have so much to be grateful for, and traveling allows you the opportunity to see that so many people are living with so little and yet they have very rich and fulfilling lives.
  5.  Find common threads…traveling affirms that people are more alike than they are different. When you travel, you see the human thread that weaves people together, presents mutual wants, and desires while removing the labels that separate individuals by identifiers that distinguish one’s race, gender, ethnicity, and preference.
  6.  Helps you reflect…traveling gives you the freedom to think about what is important. People are caught up in their daily lives and often forget what they have done, whom they have met, and what is actually important to them. So, taking time to travel gives you the opportunity to reflect on what has meaning. You can finally stop and smell the roses.
  7. You can PLAY again…traveling gives you the right to PLAY. You have not played in a while and you need a break from the grind. Traveling is a way to let your hair down and venture out to do something that is FUN. You can regain the excitement in your life through traveling.
  8.  Relax!!!...traveling also helps you relax and find your inner peace again. Have you been tossing and turning at night because you cannot sleep? Well, traveling is just the thing that will help you let go of all your worries and recharge your mind, body and spirit. It’s nice to find a quiet little place where no one knows your name and you can finally rest and rejuvenate.
  9. Get to know yourself again… it is a great time to journal and think about what makes your heart sing. Do you really know yourself since you have not taken time to quiet your mind and think about what you want, need, and desire? Travel and ask yourself what matters to you!
  10.  Reconnect with family or friends…traveling gives you the opportunity to meet-up with people you have not seen in a while. It also allows you time to reconnect with the people that you see every day but do not take the time to engage with because you are constantly on the go. You can use travel as a way to rekindle a flame, find out what is going on, and really interact with the people that you care about you.     

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Taking the Leap of Faith

Taking a Leap of Faith

I'm Headed to China      

By Kelsey Muskin

Some people find that their career is not working and decide to change jobs, but more and more African American women are taking transformation to another level. Among them are women giving up traditional 9 to 5 jobs in the United States for unconventional ESL (English as a second language) teaching positions abroad. 
Brittany Shook, a Nashville native, recently departed on her way to Chengdu, China for a six-month teaching assignment, and we had the pleasure of chatting with her before she left.

When we asked Brittany why she was traveling to Chengdu China, she states that she wanted a new exciting change in her life. Brittany was in a contract position that was about to end, tired of working in a corporate position; she wanted to do something completely different.  When the opportunity came to travel abroad and teach, it wasn’t that difficult to consider.

“I was contemplating and praying if it was the right thing to do and I just felt like it was. All the signs led to China” says Shook. “If I go over there and I do not like it I can always come back home, but for now, I want to just try it out.” In most cases, teaching abroad assignments are one year, but Brittany is choosing to do six months for that purpose; she wants to test the waters before taking on a full yearlong assignment.

In college, Brittany’s major was Liberal Arts with a minor in Business Administration, but was working in the field of Information Technology. “I was looking at ways to travel with what I studied and worked in, but there weren’t many options at that time. I would have to stay in those positions for five to ten years just to move up and I did not want to be in those positions for that long.”

Another factor that initiated Brittany’s decision to go to China was that she planned to go and visit the country previously.  She was originally going to visit China with friends but some problems occurred that caused them to back out of the trip.  Still wanting to go to the country, Brittany looked at other ways of traveling.

Brittany said, “I was thinking, why I would pay to go to China when I can have someone pay for me to go there instead.  When I applied for the teaching job, they said I would be located in China and since I wanted to go there anyway, I felt that it was just the right opportunity.”

This will not be Britany’s first time traveling abroad. She had previously traveled to Mexico, Italy as well as Jamaica, but states that they were all trips for vacations and she now wants a more educational experience abroad.

While many young people are afraid of stepping into the unknown Brittany is very open to traveling to a foreign country and having a different experience. However, she isn’t the first person in her family to spend time abroad. Her father was in the military and has been to over 40 countries. 
“Just go for it and if it doesn’t work out you can always come back home. If you do not try, you will never know how the experience would be. ”
While growing up, Brittany always saw her father leave, but wanted to travel with him. She says, “I always wanted to go with my father when he traveled, but I was in school and had to stay here with my mother. So, he would bring back souvenirs, but it is not the same as going overseas and getting the experiences for yourself. So seeing my dad travel made me want to get out and travel too.”

It is only rational that fears and apprehensions will go through a person’s mind when they first live abroad and Brittany is no exception. Besides her anxiety and procrastination about moving far way, her main fear is about her making the right decision to go abroad. It is a major step in someone’s life, but Brittany feels that even though it is a major decision, she trust herself that she is making the right one.

Her expectations for her trip is to gain more personal growth and independence. “I am the only child in my family so I am use to being spoiled and sticking to my comfort zones. I feel that this trip will make me become more social and to gain my own independence. I also expect to find myself and continue to grow more as a person.”

If Brittany could tell herself anything in a year, after her experience living in China, she hopes to say that she made the right decision and congrats, on getting up and moving even though she was scared and procrastinating. She would also want to tell herself thank you.

Lastly, we asked Brittany what advice she would have for someone else that is currently in her situation, contemplating leaving, and going abroad. Brittany states “Just go for it and if it doesn’t work out you can always come back home. If you do not try, you will never know how the experience would be. You do not want to be elderly and look back on your longer years and wish that you traveled. So just go out and go for it.”