Wednesday, October 27

Christene Harris

My love for traveling began at an early age. Neither of my parents really had any travel experiences in their childhood and they wanted to ensure that my siblings and I got those experiences early on. My mom worked at the Philadelphia airport for some years, so we were able to take flights for discounted prices. We took a trip every summer and some summers we even took two. Though most of the trips were to other states on the East coast, I was also able to visit the West coast twice and the South. Some of the states that I’ve had the pleasure of visiting include Georgia, Florida, Virginia, West Virginia, New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, Colorado, and California.  

When traveling to these places, I quickly learned that different states have different cultures even though they’re all in the United States. I loved the friendly demeanor of the people that lives in Georgia and I was overwhelmed by the fast-paced lifestyle that the people of New York are accustomed to. 

When I was in middle school, I received the chance to take a trip to Puerto Rico with my Spanish class. This was my first time going abroad. This adventure was like no other that I had ever experienced. We visited many historical landmarks and tourist attractions, tasted traditional foods and drinks and volunteered with school-aged children. I was able to see just how different the education system was in other places, which is something that has intrigued me ever since. This was also my first time being in a place where no one around looked like me. I was one of only two black students on the trip and we were the only black people around most of the cities we visited. This made me uncomfortable for the first couple days of being there but I was able to shift my focus from race onto their culture and learning new things about it. This trip was by far my favorite due to the tropical weather, beautiful clear beaches, and the pride of the citizens.  

In 2017, my family and I took a cruise to the Bahamas. The trip was 5 days long but most of this time was spent on the cruise ship. We were able to go on excursions on the different islands each day. I loved being on these gorgeous islands that are homes to thousands of black people. I realized from this trip that I liked being a tourist in places where the people do look like me but are different from me in so many ways.  

This upcoming summer I will have the opportunity to study abroad in Guayaquil, Ecuador. This will be my first international travel by myself. I chose Ecuador because I want to advance my Spanish speaking skills and because I have been wanting to visit the Galapagos Islands since I first learned about them in elementary school. I am nervous but yet so excited to see what this journey has in store for me.  

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