Last month on Instagram and Facebook I asked everyone to ask the questions they have for me! I got so many incredible questions that made me sit and reflect. Here are some of my favorite ones and the answers I gave. Feel free to always ask me anything!
Do you call yourself a traveler, a world citizen, a tourist, any other term, or does it vary?
Identity is dynamic – it’s made up of how we see ourselves and how others see us. Depending on where we are, what we’re doing, who we’re with, we’ll see ourselves differently. Generally though, I think of myself, and so many of those around me, as world citizens. It doesn't mean that our national identity or our religious or gender or racial or whatever other identities don't exist - but that we promote our essential humanness, and the connection that brings with others, as our foremost identity. I love that the people I have in my life share this outlook.
How does seeing the wonders of the world (in nature and in people) affect your spirituality and your attitude about life?
It's a beautiful circle - I travel because my love for the world and its people enhances my spirituality and relationship with the divine. As I travel and I learn more and see more, that love deepens. I think a lot about the from Lester B Pearson, "How can there be peace if people do not understand each other, and how can they understand if they do not know one another." Through knowing the world you know peace and love, and through knowing peace and love you know god.
What dictates your next location?
I don't like to think too far ahead in picking next locations - I go with the flow, thinking of what will be the best for ME. Of course, as the number of remaining countries dwindles, those are the top priority - but I also return often to places that are like home: the UAE, Tanzania, Germany, NYC and even Indiana.
Anything completely unexpected that blew you away?
I remember arriving to Burundi on a bus from Tanzania and just looking out the window and thinking, "this is the most beautiful place on earth!" and being shocked that not a single person had ever mentioned the country when talking about must-see spots.
At what point were you truly SHOCKED by the culture and how they live their lives?
I’m not sure I've been truly shocked because no culture is completely irrational and can always be understood in their context. What does shock me is when neighbors hate one another. I heard some scary statements on both sides of Israel/Palestine and simply could not fathom how they truly believed some of the dehumanizing things they said.
What country did you visit where you wish you could have spent more time in but for w/e reason left early?
Too many! Though I’ve done 2+ months in 13 countries and am good at getting proper time when I want it, there is never enough time anywhere. Some of the first examples that come to mind: I want to explore Papua New Guinea more and would love to be in Eritrea for a month, I never want to leave Tanzania while I'm there, and of course would love a full springtime in Paris.
How did your adventure around the world shape the person you are today?
It's made me a more patient and aware person. I’m also a better listener, which really helps me in situations to learn about others who are different from me. I now take the time to really observe and to learn from every person, place, and experience I encounter. Travel opens your eyes and really pushes you to accept all thing. To me travel is about being open and learning, in that sense, everyone is always traveling.
What is your goal?
My goal is, on a personal level to build connections between people, the beauty of the world, and the divine. On a professional level it is to develop economies so more people can appreciate those things. How exactly I'll do this in my life or do it every day, I'm still figuring out.
What's that thing you always think of?
God! And how much beauty and magic there is in the world and the people on it.
Favourite and least favourite country? And why?
Favorite countries are the UAE and Tanzania. I'm biased because I have bases in both, but why I love each is because of the cultures of deep sense of community and fascinating development histories. No real least favorite but I hate any experience when I feel taken advantage of or I see others being taken advantage of
Do you journal every day?
I do! I handwrite one page each day :)
What were the biggest barriers you had to overcome to start your journey? How did you get past them?
Sometimes the hardest part is just deciding that you will go and do it! Taking the leap and buying the ticket! Also realizing how travel doesn't need to be just touristy sites and fancy hotels. There are many things to do in other countries not just being a tourist
In the future, do you see yourself residing in the States or overseas?? Is there really "no place like home?"
I'm never sure...I really have loved living in Abu Dhabi the past few years and do picture myself there longtime. But I love being nearer to family. I feel like I have many homes around the world in the places I’ve spent extended periods of time, not just Abu Dhabi, but also New York, East Africa, and Berlin. I like to spend most of my time in these places.
Out of all your travels and experiences...what/where...would you say has been your favorite part/moment/place?
What always stays with me the strongest and longest is spending time with people my age. Just knowing how similar we are despite race, wealth, job, etc. We all just want our lives to be full of love and fun, to be accepted by our families and societies while being ourselves.
Tell me the most magical and most spiritual experience(s) and places you have encountered in your travel.
I'm always searching for the divine and direct transcendence. I believe it's everywhere, with the right perspective. The places I feel it most strongly are in the mosque where I converted in Tanzania, on the balcony of my favorite hotel looking at the mountains / ocean, every time I walk a beach, and being with those that I love.