Returning Home

Jet Airplane Landing at Sunset

After returning from a extended stay in a foreign country, the last thing a traveler wants to hear is the ignorance that taints the American global view. People often see you as an outlet to ask all– and I do mean all of their questions about your country.

Since returning,  I have received some of the most outlandish questions. The list is as follows: “Did you eat lion meat?” “How were the grocery stores?” “When you left the airplane, did it stink?” “Did they wear clothes?” “Is South Africa on the ivory coast?” “Is that region of Africa dangerous? (South Africa is a country!)”

There are a lot of myths that surround Africa. At first, I was enraged by the questions I had received. Since I had just returned from an amazing experience abroad, I anticipated being asked thought-provoking questions about the African National Congress (ANC), coloured identity, and the reality of being black American in South Africa. Instead, I was asked whether the people wore grass skirts…. It was frustrating to say the least.

With time, I realized that I had to be South Africa to the world. Although I can’t scratch the surface of the history of South Africa, I can share the experiences that I’ve had in the hopes that I can dispel myths that surround the single narrative of the continent of Africa. To allow the incredible lessons that South Africa fade away into the depths of my mind would be an injustice to others. I have to be someone else’s South Africa. You have to be someone else’s ______.

Tayler Ulmer

Tayler is a black girl without borders. As a natural, black, Christian, female, broke, sociology-studying student, the compilation of all of these aspects of her identity have made for some pretty interesting adventures. From making sand castles on a private island to dancing to kwaito music at a shabeen in a Langa township, traveling has enabled her to explore new depths of global understanding. As a student at Spelman College, she is on a fixed budget, but has made her dreams of traveling the world a reality.

2 Comments

  • Reply January 15, 2014

    Njaimeh Njie

    I’m so glad you wrote this. I spent so much time planning for my last trip, I didn’t think about what I would experience as I transitioned back into “real life.” I think you’ve come to a good way of looking at things, especially since your stories might inspire others!

    • Reply January 28, 2014

      Tayler Ulmer

      Thank you so much! I greatly appreciate your comments.

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