Here is my Dominican Love Story...
Nearly one year ago, I submitted my application for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in the Dominican Republic; hoping, that somehow, in someway, the essay that I composed and narrative I shared would have been enough to compete against the thousands of other applicants. One year later, I have been blessed with the opportunity to leave behind all things I thought I knew about life and living in the U.S., to allow for the beauty, challenges, and narratives of the people of the Dominican Republic to fill my heart, my mind, and my soul. While this is not my first time traveling overseas or even living abroad, this is the first that I have had to find my own seeds and plant my own roots for a year long experience. I wish I could blissfully repeat my sentiments from previous posts and remind you that EVERYONE should go abroad. However, after reflecting on my first month's lessons and challenges here, I now believe differently. I believe traveling abroad comes with preparation; mentally, physically, and spiritually that some of us are simply not ready to do. Thus, I have come to believe you are not prepared or have not been preparing effectively for the beautiful experience of going abroad if:
You are solely interested in traveling to resorts.
You cannot accept anything outside of your own understanding of right and wrong.
You understand the world and others with a ‘duality consciousness’ rather than a ‘unity consciousness'.
You’re searching for yourself in other places, beings, or things.
You are waiting for love to find you.
Each of those five ‘if’s’, I believe, will lead you to a destructive time abroad and that it far from what I am promoting. Unfortunately, many people, including Black Americans, leave the U.S. with a mindset that will prevent them from experiencing what being “Black Beyond Borders” is truly about…”humanity”. Having the privilege and the challenge of being Black Beyond Borders gives you the opportunity to learn and teach in ways that most are not accustomed to. Being Black Beyond Borders gives you a certain power that most do not know how to handle. Being Black Beyond Borders gives you the chance to fall in love over and over again with your beautiful blackness and with the unique intricacies of humanity. Here is my Dominican love story as a Black woman beyond my borders... 15/09/2016 Each day since I've arrived in Santo Domingo, I've been yearning to post SOMETHING, as I reflected somewhere in my new city, and shared some aspect of my new life... However, I simply haven't had any words (which is odd for me who never EVER shuts up). I've been seeking a certain feeling and understanding of this complex city without considering the complexity of being an American Black woman beyond her borders. So anxious to get "lost" in my own thoughts, my dreams.... And desiring to escape myself just for a moment... How selfish, no? This Fulbright blessing may come with major responsibilities that have challenged my preparedness and my parents' ability to let go, but does that mean I must desire to be alone in my thoughts and escape my current realities? Most of us, especially Black women (in my experience) travel either solo or with a very intimate group of people overseas. Interestingly, we travel, experience this "second life and other world", and return to the states with many stories in our hearts but few words to fully articulate what we have seen, felt and experienced. As I signed my lease and received the keys for my new apartment for the year, I just KNEW this wave of peace would come over me. I just KNEW the words to describe my life would come...but they didn't. My mind began to fill with everything I DIDN'T have at that moment.... Instantly googling where to find this towel, that steamer, or a small microwave. My mind filled... brain turned on...and my heart was left once again abandoned. Abandoned by the shuffle, the noise, the expectations, the pressure... Desiring once again to get lost, not because I simply wanted some time of my own but rather because I sought refuge in quiet spaces away from the world to comment or judge. When this picture was taken it began to hit me that with my parents next to me...getting lost was not an option, but rather was an example of my selfishness permeating through the thick layers of love and comfort that currently surrounded me. It was me trying to rid myself of the only thing I knew in an effort to find something that may never ever truly know me... It was me joining the stories and herstories of thousands of Black women who have gone beyond her borders seeking to go outside of herself. Unknowingly, we make an unconscious effort to emulate the perceptions of a society around us that have never allowed a Black woman to be truly vulnerable, at peace, and completely present simultaneously. Welcome American Black Woman to Santo Domingo...where today I learned vulnerability and peace exist not in one's lonely darkness but rather in one's community of light.