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How Black Expats In Spain Are Supporting Each Other During The COVID-19 Crisis
After being a teacher and entrepreneur for two years in Panama, Kiersten Brown knew that she wanted to continue living abroad. She just wanted something different.
“I had never been to Europe before but after meeting many different travelers from Spain, Germany, and Portugal, something was very intriguing about the other side of the world,” she told Travel Noire in an interview.
So, she packed up and moved to Spain where she found the Language Assistant/ Cultural Ambassador Program. For Brown, she thought it would be a great way to continue teaching while sharing her cultural perspective of being a black woman from the United States.
Fast-forward to today – Kiersten is a travel coach and teacher/entrepreneur living in Spain. Her goal is to coach black women on how to live meaningful and profitable lives abroad. And like so many people in her shoes, she found that the current COVID-19 pandemic has not only put a halt on life as we know it.
“For many people, this is a challenging time. For ex-pats, this can be especially scary because we are far from home and loved ones,” she said.
As the number of cases increased and borders closed, Brown and other black ex-pats in Spain found this as an opportunity to connect and support each other during the pandemic.
From sharing their goals and strategies for personal improvement, developing side hustles, and even sharing fitness routines from home, Brown told Travel Noire that the support has been a huge factor in getting through this challenging time:
Travel Noire: What do you find to be the most challenging part about being an ex-pat abroad during this time?
Brown: The most obvious answer is being away from friends and family. There are times I feel a little helpless because I’m so far away. Luckily all of my loved ones are safe and healthy but if something happened or they needed something, I wouldn’t physically be able to reach out and help them. Apart from this feeling restricted and not knowing exactly when this will all end. We know it’ll end but it’s just a matter of when.
Travel Noire: Spain has been one of the hardest-hit countries by COVID-19 and in the midst of all of this chaos, you have found support by connecting with other black ex-pats. How has this helped your experience?
Brown: Staying connected to other black ex-pats has helped me to stay grounded and sane. Even though I have Spanish friends it’s different when I’m speaking to another black ex-pat. The mentalities of other black ex-pats and myself are aligned in a way that motivates me and inspires me. I know that I’m not in this alone. More so I know that I have other black women cheering for me, just as hard as I’m cheering for them. Also, it helps that they aren’t trying to go back to the US or their perspective countries either.
Travel Noire: Regarding COVID-19, what advice would you give aspiring black ex-pats preparing to take a leap of faith after this pandemic is over?
Brown: For ex-pats looking to move abroad after this pandemic, now is the time to prepare. Start with where you are, take the time to invest in your mental and emotional health. Living abroad isn’t going to solve your personal problems.
Create a strong reason why you want to live abroad. We all get tired of being in the same city for a long time but maybe you need to more frequent vacations or to travel longer or a gap year. In addition, start looking into remote work. Even though I and many others have used teaching English as a means to move abroad, it’s not the only way. Working for international companies is all an option. There are many women like myself who specialize in coaching people to move abroad so connecting to not only resources but other people can be helpful.
5. Is there anything else you would like to tell us that I didn’t ask you that you feel is important for this story?
Brown: The most powerful element in all of this is my mind. I have been able to monitor, analyze, evaluate, and manifest my thoughts to help me to thrive abroad in any circumstance. If you don’t have a strong relationship with yourself living abroad, will be that much harder. Our minds are our most powerful asset and our greatest enemy.