Lipsticks and Bug Bites
Over 12 years ago, I boarded a plane to Cape Town, South Africa. I spent the summer of my junior year at UConn volunteering there with other black college students from across the United States. It was also the first time I wore lipstick. It was my first time travelling to a black country, and I was happy to discover that they had many options of makeup for my skin tone and hue available in a way I had not seen it before. Just as makeup has evolved in the last decade, and I can now find products which cater to me at my local drug store, so has my life. When I landed back in Connecticut at the end of my trip to Cape Town, I swore that once I finished my undergraduate degree I would return to my dream of living abroad. Unfortunately, that never happened. I enrolled in graduate school at Howard University, got an amazing job at a university and then a charter school doing college success work, and discovered fulfillment in this new passion. However, I was not free to just pick up and travel like I wanted to. Luckily, in 2017, a big shift happened in my life that allowed me to look up and remember those teenage passions I once had. I traveled frequently between 2006 and 2018, but during the summer of 2017, I took an epic trip across West Africa and was again reminded about the world outside of the U.S. I was surrounded by shea butter, foundation for my skin, and clothes that were formed to hug my curves. I once again revisited lipstick that was made for me by people who looked like me. I knew I wanted to travel more, to make it a lifestyle. I started to look up jobs working abroad, but I wanted to stay within my passion: education, and specifically providing personal and college counseling to students. I think back to that 2006 trip to South Africa because it was an extended period of time; it was not just a week or 10 days, but almost two months: enough time to learn and live the culture by unpacking my suitcase and allowing myself to become rooted. I was bit by the travel bug, and have been satisfying that itch ever since. After college, when I thought I was just living life, giving 100% of myself to the things that were in front of me, I was really setting myself up to be the perfect candidate for my upcoming job abroad.