Out of Many, One People: A Global Quest for Acceptance and Home

The American dream never satisfied one multi-racial traveller. As she experiences the kindness of strangers on her journeys across Europe, South America and beyond, her understanding of “home” shifts from place to the power of human connection.

up as a multi-racial woman and the daughter of two
immigrant parents, I never felt like I belonged to one community.
Yet travelling has made me feel like I have a home in every corner
of the world. I have spent time in classrooms learning about
society, but no textbook teaches you that you might have more in
common with strangers in a European piazza than you do with people
you’ve known your whole life back at home. There have been times
when strangers in foreign places have shown me more kindness than
familiar faces. Who knew that I’d find such a sense of belonging
and acceptance in the far-flung coordinates of a map? Without
travelling, I’d have never experienced this.

My home soil – the so-called “American dream” – never fulfilled
me, and for this reason, I sought refuge in different places. The
wave of positivity I have experienced travelling as a person of
colour has empowered me to use this privilege to my advantage as
much as I can, because not everyone has the luxury to travel. The
good I have seen and felt in new destinations has helped me view
the world through a kaleidoscope of colour. Shining a light on my
positive experiences isn’t about undermining another traveller’s
story; we can learn from each other.

My travelling tales are not remembered in days, but moments.
Often these are the moments that remind me why I travelled so far
from home, to meet people who were never fixated around the
question of “what are you?”, referring to my skin as if it was all
of me. I’ve met people who opened their home to me; we created art
and sculpted our ideas through clay in a cottage hidden in the
Tuscan hills. Stumbling across language barriers, I had a
conversation on a napkin in a bar down a quiet street in Florence. Remembering these moments, I revel in
the mixture of races that I am and watch as they blend into
different places and occasions, be it the mountaintops of South
America or set among ancient architecture.

It’s not that my home has been a cruel place for me, but it has
never given me the experience of picking fresh fruit from a
person’s garden before musing over a glass of wine. On home soil, I
never found the meaningful experiences that I was seeking; for me,
it barely scratched the surface of what true human connection can
do for a person. When I reflect on my moments abroad, it reminds me
why I choose to travel and why I have never settled for one label
to describe me as a person. Travelling has always made me feel like
more than something that can be put in one box: “check one below
for race/ ethnicity.”

When I step onto unfamiliar land, my soul attaches to the
unknown, leaving pieces of myself in that place. I latch onto a
simple smile from an old lady in Corfu selling handcrafted
jewellery in a tiny shop, or a taxi driver who lets me in on the
beaches only locals know about. When sailing the Balearic Sea, a
captain’s wife – without even knowing me – learned to cook a vegan
meal so I could enjoy lunch with friends. Through strangers’ acts
of kindness, I have found an eternal home around the world. It
might not be a home of permanent residency, but it’s one to which I
can always return.

The souvenirs I collect when I travel are lessons; each place
teaches me something different. I have found the meaning of
kindness in strangers as a lone traveller lost in a busy Manchester
Airport. I learned how to enjoy the little things in life as I
watched the people of Paris
by the Seine experience life like an endless vacation. As I made my
way up into the mountain in Colombia,
new-found friends who led me there taught me that family isn’t
always the one you are born into. When I return home, I feel as if
a different person, someone who has grown and changed through
positive experiences.

Travelling is my sanctuary. It is an escape from my own
realities, and a chance to connect with people such as backpackers
in Italy and tour guides who show me cities in a new light. I have
found places where I feel accepted by a community of people who
only see one race: the human one.

My parents taught me about a saying they had in Jamaica: “out of
many, one people.” Despite our differences, we together, as humans,
are so much more than what separates us. Even in the most
unfamiliar places, we can find common ground. I take these words
with me wherever I go.

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