The Questions 100 — No. 11: Sienna on helping Black Americans move abroad




The Questions 100, Sienna

I decided to dedicate my profession to helping other people of color make the leap because representation is so important and mainstream media is very great at deleting our stories, or misshaping them. Mainstream media is really great at being like, “Rich White people know how to travel”, but there are so many Black people and Brown people who are out there doing it as well.

For me I feel like creating the space in the media world saying that, “Yes, we can be person of color. Yes, we can be woman of color, man of color and yes, we can be out here.” Not to just have short travel experiences where we’re having our “Eat, Pray, Love” moments, but some of it might be [that] we’re coming to live, to fully immerse ourselves into these places [and] into these cultures in a way that we may not necessarily be before.

 The Questions 100, Sienna

If I’m able to tap into a community that already has that experience, and share it with people, it will only make it easier and easier as the knowledge goes down the line.

My first travel moment that really ignited the sense of travel was when I went to the Dominican Republic for the first time. I was 13 or 14, I think. I had gone on a mission trip through the heart of the capital and I was there for a week.

Being able to be embraced in that culture at such a young age and feel connected because in the [Dominican Republic] they’re all Brown people. I felt like I was a part of that community, even though it’s not where I called home. Since then it’s kind of been pushing me to go experience different cultures and not just pass through a city or country, but really feel like I’m a part of the community there.

The Questions 100, Sienna

I would say my trip to the Dominican Republic when I was 13 or 14 and also studying abroad in Madrid, I was able to meet Spanish friends and feel like I was able to get to know the city. I wasn’t necessarily traveling to other parts of Europe, but I was staying here and really got to know Madrid.

After going back to the states, I felt like something was missing and for me personally, it was the lifestyle and culture of living in Spain.

For me, I define the Spanish lifestyle as sustainable. They really put a focus on others, on actually enjoying life, [and] not feeling overwhelmed or stressed. They’re in the sun a lot for their culture, especially if you live in the south.

The Questions 100, Sienna

For me, when I think about Spanish lifestyle I think about sustainability, putting yourself first and focusing on what really matters, which isn’t always working the nine to five or the nine to seven, and the continuous hustle to have more and do more. Instead [it’s] being content with what you have, living with less, actually being able to enjoy life [and] not waiting until retirement to do it.

Spaniards have a really heavy emphasis on relationships [and] will live with their parents for a very long time. I have a lot of friends who are in their mid-30s and they still go to their parents house every afternoon for lunch.

The Questions 100, Sienna

Relationships within Spaniards are really deep. They are friends with each other in high school and until death do us part. They focus a lot on relationships and having other people be an integral part of their life.

In the states, everyone can be kind of closed or they’re inside of their houses or jobs, or they’re going down the road and not really focusing on the people around them. Whereas I feel like if you’re walking down the street here, you might be open to having random interactions with people you might not necessarily know. I feel like Spaniards are very interested in other people and create new relationships, but also fostering the ones they have.


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