What made you move to where you are today?
I moved to the Philippines for a job and adventure. I’m a young adult missionary for the United Methodist Church. When I applied for the program I accepted having no idea where I was going. So my appetite for adventure definitely allowed me to be open enough to go where I was summoned. And viola..15 months later I’m here in the Philippines working for peace and justice with a local NGO.
How did you prepare for the move? How did you find housing? Did you need to learn a new language?
In my case I definitely over-prepared. Before moving I went through an intense 3 week training preparing my batch-mates and I to live and work internationally. The theme was: simple living, and I really took it to the extreme. I brought no cute clothes, no heels, none of my fabulous jewelry, minimal makeup…essentially the things that give me life. After arriving I quickly realized I took it way over board, and that simple living doesn’t mean I have to live in poverty or deprive myself of the things that I love. Looking back though, stripping myself of all of the ornaments that help to make me fabulous was a blessing. It really forced me to get in touch with myself in a new way. My organization provided me with housing, and I’m still trying to learn the language…Lord help me. It’s the first language I ever seriously tried to learn. I can understand a lot more than I can speak. I get by though 🙂
Whats the most difficult thing about being a black woman where you are? Blatant racism? no black community? No hair stylist?!
All of the above! lol When I first arrived I was shocked and appalled at the booming skin whitening industry (I’m pointing at you P&G and Unilever). This is a country that was colonized for almost 400 years, so I find many people maybe subconsciously buy into the ‘white is right’ syndrome. I’ve had people joke about me being “dark.” And many people here don’t understand how I can be black and from the United States. I find myself giving a 5 minuet history lesson at least 3 times a week. People are really curious about my hair more than anything; how did I get it this way, do I comb it, do I wash it…with shampoo, etc. I’ve chosen to wear protective styles while here because It’s just easier for me. I stocked up on Shea Moisture products before I left and all is well! They have really great virgin coconut oil here. I’ve adopted it into my routine and will be smuggling a couple dozen bottles back to the States with me.
On the flip side, what do you LOVE about where you live?
I love the spirit of the people here, everyone is so warm and welcoming. I’ve experienced hospitality like never before. My work has allowed me to see and do things I could have never even dreamed that I would be able to experience, so I love every bit of living and learning in this new culture. My time here has really been defined by the amazingly strong women I’ve met here in the Philippines. I’m talking true feminist who might not necessarily identify with the term ‘feminist’. I’ve loved every conversation and all that I’ve learned from them.
How have your friends and family reacted to you moving abroad?
Everyone has been really supportive. Since my life has taken a turn in this direction I can see how my friends and family are starting to take interest in some of the issues that I’ve become passionate about and that I’m working on here. It’s really cool.
Whats next for you? Plans to move back home? More living abroad?
New York, New York is next for me. I will be moving there early spring 2014 where I will work with the communications team at the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church for the next year and a half. After that only God knows. I’ve always been a ‘go with the flow’ kind of gal, so I hope that life will take me abroad again. It’s really a life changing experience.
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