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African American, Black Men, Community Spotlght, Global Community, International Exposure, Peace Corps, Travel

Community Spotlight: Addison DeMoss

 Black and Abroad: Thoughts From a Solitary Traveler  

By: Addison DeMoss

Art Market, Mozambique

Walking through my Bairro in Mozambique during a relatively brisk evening, I decided to have a quick  drink before returning home and settling down. At this stage, I had been fairly integrated into my  community for nearly one year, but there is always someone new to encounter. While waiting for my  drink to be served, a man near the bar playing billiards stared at me intently before making his opening  statement. “I have seen you around before,” he said, “but only now have I gotten the chance to speak with  you.” “My name is Addison; nice to meet you,” I replied. Then came the question I must have been asked  nearly every day since I arrived in Mozambique, and he did not disappoint by enquiring, “Where are you  from?” With a smile, I tell him, “The United States.” After this reveal, his demeanor appeared to change,  and a conversation that was once spoken entirely in Portuguese quickly transitioned into English. “Ah, so  you are an African man lost in America.” While catching me off guard, his statement concurrently  brought me a sense of clarity of how I felt during my adult life as a person of color and caused me to  reflect on how living in Africa was impacting my development. 

Compared to many Americans, I would say that I have been relatively privileged in receiving  opportunities to travel internationally through study abroad opportunities or government programs such as  the Peace Corps. While a Peace Corps Volunteer, I gained experience in the health sector, working with  NGOs focused on HIV/AIDS & malaria prevention and sexual & reproductive health with gender  equality initiatives. These organizations brought me a greater awareness of what plagues urban and rural  communities and the solutions available to eradicate these issues. Just as meaningful as the methods I  learned to improve local communities’ conditions was the camaraderie I established with people who live  there. During my 3 years of service, I learned to develop patience in understanding people’s cultural  differences while acclimating to another way of life. Undoubtedly, that experience helped me gain a more  diverse worldview and create genuine connections with people from various identities. 

The ability to travel is a privilege for anyone as it provides opportunities to learn about other societies and  their way of life. During my travels, I make it a habit to participate in different areas, including food,  music, art, and more. Each category is a direct representation of a community’s cultural identity, and  connecting with these forms of culture is a way to establish connections with the people representing  them. The most valuable aspect that I have gained during my time abroad has been the relationships I  developed personally and professionally. Since my experiences with the Peace Corps, I have continued to  travel and forge connections with people, enabling me to understand different perspectives while also  building a stronger sense of empathy, even if I may not personally share their lived experiences. 

For all of the striking differences societies have due to their cultural backgrounds, what connects these  groups is the intersecting similarities they share and their ability to progress via solidarity and advocacy,  especially for groups that suffer from extreme forms of marginalization. In these connections, people can  learn to be more supportive and not allow their differences to serve as divisive structures. During my  interactions with people of different backgrounds, I have gained awareness of my privileges and the  disadvantages I face because of my identity. Having the opportunity to converse with people encountering  similar forms of adversity or those of their own encouraged me to advocate for global communities  overlooked in the international development sector. The path I am currently walking would not be  possible if not for the gateway that traveling has provided. For this reason, I firmly believe that travel is  one of the most influential tools accessible for societal advancement as a whole and is necessary as a  guiding principle for anyone who aims to achieve personal growth.

About Little Black Village

Little Black Village promotes higher education, personal development, and international exposure for African American youth. Little Black Village is a dedicated to discussing and exploring ways of keeping our black youth from dropping out of high school and encouraging them in seeking higher education and living up to their fullest potential. Little Black Village is also committed to making a difference in the black community by encouraging its members to share their voices through social media outlets, lead by example by taking an active role in mentoring a black youth, connecting families to educational resources and actively taking part of community services in and out of our communities.

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