In celebration of Black History Month 2015, Cultural Xplorer is continuing with the annual series of Black History Month interviews highlighting bloggers and travelers of color. This interview series was created to eradicate the long-standing myth that African-Americans and people of color do not travel.
This series features a number of interviews from both men and women of color from around the world who are passionate about traveling and sharing their stories through their writing and through travel videos.
Andye on Traveling
How were you exposed to traveling?
My first time out of my native country (Haiti) was at 8 years old when I visited the Dominican Republic on a school trip over Christmas break. A couple of years later I moved to the U.S. and got to visit family in Canada a few times. But I feel I wasn’t really exposed to travel until I was 20 when I went to study abroad in France and got to backpack some of Western Europe and North Africa.
What motivated you to make travel a part of your life?
I knew I always wanted to go to Paris and when I stumbled upon the great opportunity that my school offered for studying abroad, I could not pass it up. I realized how happy and carefree I felt during my semester in Rennes, France. I felt alive. This semester was what motivated me to make travel a part of my life because I never wanted to lose the feeling of “living”. After that semester, being back in the US felt so weird that I applied to study abroad again and went to Senegal.
What is your most memorable travel experience to date?
It’s a tough choice because there are plenty! But I would say one of the most memorable travel experiences was the time when I unexpectedly fell in love with a Senegalese guy while in Senegal. I got to experience the culture in a way that the rest of my cohort did not. Not only did it feel great to be “home” in Africa, but it was great to see the roots of the Haitian customs I grew up with and to have a local explain everything to me.
How many places have you traveled to so far?
I’ve been to 18 countries in Europe, North America, the Caribbean and Africa.
What is the greatest lesson you have learned on the road?
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is that as human beings, wherever we are in the world, we have so much more in common than we think. We eat, breathe, cry, and bleed the same. This was proven by the number of times I’ve communicated with people whose language I don’t even speak by using sign language and drawings.
What has been your biggest challenge on the road and how did you overcome it?
When I travel, I like to go into different countries with an open mind as a way to minimize challenges. But my biggest challenge so far was making local friends when I moved to France for the second time. I can be an introvert and it’s already hard to befriend the French. So when I left France after living there for 8 months, I did not really make any new friends, besides the friends I knew from my study abroad semester.
Andye on Blogging
When did you decide that you wanted to become a travel blogger?
I started blogging when I went on my second study abroad experience, in Senegal. A lot of my friends who heard my stories about my semester in France asked me to start blogging. I was not a fan of the idea because I thought it would require a lot. But when I got to Senegal, I felt I had a lot to tell the world, and so began my blog.
What makes your blog unique in comparison to other travel blogs?
My blog focuses mostly on different personal stories (funny or scary) that occurred in specific countries, rather than an overview of the country. It’s a part of my personal life that is shared with my audience.
What are the top three articles that you feel everyone should read on your blog?
I always get a lot of questions about Haiti, more than the other countries to which I’ve traveled. And I feel that people often get scared when I tell them I’m heading to Haiti for “vacation” because they have a huge misconception of Haiti and Haitians. These posts offer my personal perspective on my second trip to Haiti after my family immigrated to the U.S. and I want people to know that there’s way more to Haiti than what we see on the news.
The third post I would want everyone to read is titled “You travel so much, you must be rich!”
One of the most asked questions I get is “How can you afford to travel so much?” Whether it’s from my friends or strangers reading my blog, people always assume that I must be rich since I’m traveling and in that post I tell them a few of the things I do to be able to keep traveling…on a budget!
Who is your target audience?
When I started blogging, my friends were my audience, hence the personal touch to my stories. But as my blog got around, I still kept the personal stories because I wanted others to know that there is a life outside of their neighborhood and they too can tell their own stories. So now, I would say my audience is my friends as well as those who are curious about traveling.
Andye on Life
Favorite travel (or life) quote:
One of my favorite travel quotes is ″A traveler without observation is a bird without wings.” – Moslih Eddin Saadi
With technology being a huge part of our lives, we often focus on capturing the picture with our cameras and not with our minds. This quote reminds me that it’s ok to not take pictures, it’s ok to sit and just be observant of my surrounding.
What is something that your readers do not know about you?
One thing that my readers don’t know about me is that traveling literally saved my life. After the 2010 earthquake in my home country, Haiti, I fell into a deep depression and truth is, I don’t know where I would be if I did not travel. Traveling gave me a purpose.
What do your future travel plans for 2015 include?
I decided to get my Masters degree abroad and applied to schools in Europe. So moving to Europe for a couple of years, upon acceptance into a program, is one of my biggest travel plans for 2015. I also hope to reach 25 countries before I turn 25 in the beginning of 2016.
Interested in finding out more about Andye and her travels around the world?