It’s no secret that I love to travel. Sometimes I like staying at hotels instead of my usual preference of hostels (or a local couch). I buy souvenirs to bring back for family and take pictures for my IG/Blog.
Sometimes, I even forget that this is a privilege and I definitely take it for granted.
If you’re new here, I’ll give you a little background. I was born in Sfax, Tunisia to a Cuban-American mother. My mother gained her American citizenship after my family fled the communist regime in Cuba, and was granted asylum in the United States. Which means I was automatically an American citizen at birth, despite the fact I had never been to the country. Something that has bothered me my whole life.
I came to the States as a small child and I do not remember the country where I was born. If my mother hadn’t been granted asylum I’d be a dreamer. Instead, I was given a passport and a privilege I did nothing for.
With this little blue passport, I have been able to travel around the world hassle free. I have been able to experience other cultures, new food, and the incredible natural beauty this earth holds. I often forget that many people, even friends and family members of mine, do not have that option. For many people in the United States, going back home means risking your life.
You see, people come to the States in order for a better life for their children and new opportunities. For many crossing the border is life or death. I often struggle with this fact, especially because the last few years I have been working in immigration. I hear these stories firsthand, mother’s beaten and raped by partners and the police do nothing, or kids escaping gang violence and brutal killings of family members.
Woah. Yeah I know, heavy stuff. You may be thinking, what the hell does traveling have to do with this? How could this help? We have a responsibility when we travel. A responsibility to respect whatever culture we are experiencing and to learn from it.
We also have a responsibility to use our privilege for good. When you travel, immerse yourself fully within the lifestyle and culture you are lucky enough to experience. Only then can you understand and respect the journey. Immersing yourself as much as you can also help us get rid of biases and assumptions we may not even realize we have.
You can also help share the stories of marginalized people that society has deemed unimportant or not valuable. Those people that are scared to speak up, and are constantly taken advantage of.
You can also tell the stories we don’t see every day or on the media. You can show either the gruesome realities of some communities that, again, do not have that voice. Or maybe it’s painting a good picture of an otherwise stereotyped community or culture. we can even take it a step further and travel to places you might not normally have gone to. Stay in locations that make you uncomfortable, that may lack the usual luxury you are accustomed to. When you put yourself in someone else’s shoes is when you will truly be grateful for your own life. Maybe it will even motivate you to do something about it today.
And if you want to do something about it today, how about traveling to the U.S./Mexico border with No More Deaths and volunteer with this amazing organization. Help those traveling through the desert in search of safety and freedom.
Or maybe be an advocate for The Young Center, and give a voice to children who have come to the United States alone.
Whatever you decide remember that what you take for granted, someone is praying for. You may not even realize that your friend, your neighbor, your co-worker is undocumented. You may never understand the everyday fear that you may lose the only place you have called home. Use your privilege for good in this world, and the world will repay you.