National Geographic Traveler magazine names IBIT creator Greg Gross as one of ten “individuals who travel with passion and purpose.”
Every year since 2012, National Geographic Traveler magazine singles out ten Travelers of the Year — in their words, “individuals who travel with passion and purpose, have an exceptional story to tell, and represent a style of travel, motivation, or method that can inform and inspire us all.”
The ten NatGeo Travelers of the Year for 2014 were announced this morning — and IBIT is one of them.
NatGeo did interviews with each of us. Please read them. The only thing better than being inspired to travel is being inspired ten times over. You can read mine here.
I’m very grateful to the folks at NatGeo Traveler, and even more to whoever nominated me (I have no idea who that was). Most of all, I’m grateful to you, the readers of this blog. You keep me going. Thank you all.
Since its launch in June 2009, this blog has grown and evolved, but its purpose remains unchanged, to encourage Americans in general, and Black Americans especially, to get out and see the world.
Actually, instead of “see the world,” perhaps I should say “meet the world.” Because we live in a time when knowing our global neighbors is critical to our well-being as a nation.
Two years after 9/11, a high-powered panel of scholars put together a report on the need for American students not just to study abroad, but to take those international studies beyond the cultural comfort zone that is Western Europe:
- “As a nation we suffer from a pervasive lack of knowledge about the world. [emphasis mine] There have been periods, indeed entire eras, in our history where Americans have relished their isolation from the world.”
- “Some have made speaking only English a point of national pride instead of a disgrace. Never mind that the schools of most countries, rich or poor, teach at least two languages to their children.
- “In the most prosperous nation on the planet, with the most extensive system of higher education, we are notoriously inept at imparting languages to our youth.”
- “We strongly believe that the events of September 11, 2001, constituted a wake-up call—a warning that America’s ignorance of the world is now a national liability.” [emphasis mine]
That report came out in 2003. Eleven years later, has anything really changed?
Well, maybe one thing has. As I talk and listen to IBIT readers and others, whether in the flesh or in cyberspace, I get the sense that young Black Americans are traveling more than ever before.
I remember having breakfast a few years ago at Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington DC’s famous U Street Corridor, overhearing a young Black woman describe to a friend her working visit to Moscow. It sent my spirit soaring.
More and more of our young people are going farther and more often. Not just for learning or leisure, but to jump-start careers and even build new lives for themselves overseas. You’ve met some of those young people on this blog, and in the weeks, months and years to come, you’re going to meet more of them.
Still, for each of our young people who are stepping up, stepping out and taking their rightful place as a citizen of the world, there remain too many others whose view and understanding of that world doesn’t extend beyond the invisible boundaries of their neighborhood.
That has to change. We have to change it. Because as my friend, Shay Olivarria, likes to remind folks, “The world is bigger than your block.”
The work continues.