Image: Kiki Nartey

The Travellers of Colour Collective: An Inside Look

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The decision to embark on a year abroad is, needless to say, a big commitment. Whilst there may be feelings of excited anticipation to burst out of the university bubble and into a wider, unfamiliar world, this awaited eagerness can also be counteracted by apprehension. Breaking down language barriers, adjusting to a new cuisine and adapting to the local customs are some of the fundamental cross-cultural challenges that any person may encounter whilst living abroad. However, for people of colour, our racial and/or ethnic identities may serve as an added, greater challenge, particularly in locations that are less diverse. As a black woman, uprooting myself from the melting pot of London to a small town in Germany admittedly made me consciously aware of how my race could play into this new demographical context. It was this heightened self-awareness that subsequently inspired me to create The Travellers of Colour Collective, a blog that aims to connect people of colour through travel. It is a vibrant collection of short travel stories detailing individual experiences, shared by people of colour.

For people of colour, our racial and/or ethnic identities may serve as an added, greater challenge, particularly in locations that are less diverse.

Whilst I never resigned myself to a year abroad experience riddled with constant racial prejudice, I presumed that some of my day-to-day interactions with people who hadn’t been exposed to multicultural environments could potentially be directly linked to my race. Having locals touch my waist-length braids with bemusement, or being told by a man on the train that my “different appearance” was what precipitated his three-year-old son’s crying outburst, are some of the incidents that greatly increased my racial hyper-awareness whilst abroad in Germany. Having said that, being black in a predominantly white space was not always a challenge; rather, my blackness sometimes worked to my advantage. My role as an English Language Teaching Assistant allowed me to educate my students on cultures very different to their own, and they in turn reacted with positive intrigue and displayed a genuine willingness to learn more about my Ghanaian heritage.

My role as an English Language Teaching Assistant allowed me to educate my students on cultures very different to their own.

Reflecting upon my time abroad piqued my own curiosity to find out about other people’s experiences. I realised that, although I could share in unanimous feelings of homesickness and cultural displacement with my fellow year abroad friends, only very few could identify with the specific experiences I had as a woman of colour. I therefore decided I would collect a range of stories from people who, like myself, were/are overseas and people of colour, and document these individual experiences in the form of the blog- and The Travellers of Colour Collective was born! In creating this platform, I intend to fulfil the purpose of highlighting the travel experience from a unique and important perspective. I believe that in openly discussing how race plays into our lives in various cultural settings, we can all develop a more realistic understanding of our place in the world when venturing out to these unfamiliar destinations. Furthermore, sharing our international experiences as people of colour serves as a way to become more enlightened about diasporic communities, whose experiences in their home countries may differ vastly from ours. Whether it be a year abroad, a short vacation or being raised in a different country, The Travellers of Colour Collective encompasses all experiences, with the aim of providing a much needed insight into the POC experience abroad.

I realised that, although I could share in unanimous feelings of homesickness and cultural displacement with my fellow year abroad friends, only very few could identify with the specific experiences I had as a woman of colour.

Get involved!
As a slowly growing community, and one that I wish to expand, I warmly welcome more of you to become a part of The Collective! If you are a person of colour who would like to share your travel experiences, please send your submission to kiki.nartey@hotmail.com. Your blogpost should ideally be between 200-500 words, alongside a picture and a title for your piece.

You can additionally subscribe to the blog and join the Travellers of Colour Collective Facebook Page to keep up to date with the latest posts!

Blog: www.travellersofcolour.com

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/thetravellersofcolourcollective/

I believe that in openly discussing how race plays into our lives in various cultural settings, we can all develop a more realistic understanding of our place in the world when venturing out to these unfamiliar destinations.

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