Millennial Expats are Transforming the World
Moving to India was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Looking back I question where I got the courage to leave behind a great job, home and community in New York to pursue my dream of living and working internationally. As a black American woman, growing up in Los Angeles, California, I never knew or saw anyone that looked like me travel, let alone move to another country outside of the U.S. Yet, I decided to step out into the unknown, resign from my job and migrate to Mumbai to work with an amazing NGO called Vision Rescue, that worked with children and families living in the slums of Bombay and provided care homes for young women and girls rescued from sex trafficking. The work was intense but extremely gratifying. I also was able to see first hand that my experiences of working in real estate and community development in the inner cities of Los Angeles and New York actually had equipped me to support and work alongside the brilliant and hardworking staff at the NGO. Nothing that you do is a waste of time, your current stage might just prepare you for the next stage.
One of the things I was not prepared for, however, was how much I would stand out in India. Everywhere I went people would stare, do double takes, and often ask to take pictures with me. I didn’t take any offense to it as everyone was very friendly and welcoming, but what it did make me aware of was that I was viewed unusual. How is that even possible in times of mass globalisation, migration and immigration? One of the most common questions I would get asked was “What country are you from?”. People would often take a guess before they let me answer, saying Kenya, Nigeria, West Indies or Barbados. When I told them I was American, people were usually surprised and shared that they had never met or seen black Americans in Mumbai. Probably meaning that they didn't not know that people of color can be Americans as well. (Or German, or British, you name it.)
After my time in India, I decided to move from the USA to London. There I started to search out other minority expats; this time specifically black Americans. I mostly looked for international websites and blogs. I was surprised to find many blog post and forums where expats of colour were sharing their stories and intentionally connecting with others. But this presence, didn’t reflect the market research and expat data that was published on websites mainly by those very same global companies and cities who are seeking to understand, reach and profit from this large subgroup of migrants. I noticed that little to no research existed that examines the expat person of color and their unique experiences as well as contributions on a global scale. I was baffled as I concluded that minority expats seem to be made invisible when actually from my research, interactions and the fact that I am an expat myself, we are very present, active and playing major roles in international spaces across all professional disciplines. Have you ever wondered, if the numbers you read on major publications concerning expats and migration actually represent the global expat reality? My oxymoronic discovery sparked an idea that changed my life and at TEDxMauerpark 2018 I will share that with you hoping it will change your life as well. Until then, stay curious, stay brave and stay woke.