Over the summer of 2019, I was fortunate enough to do an internship with a black owned travel company called Griot’s Republic. The company describes itself as “a Digital, Urban Black Travel Magazine that explores your connection to the many cultures you encounter while traveling. With Griot’s Republic, history and the arts meet at the intersection of Black travel”. Over the course of a month and a half, I was able to travel to London, Brussels, and Amsterdam, writing travel articles, interviewing locals, site-seeing, and experiencing these cities like a native.
This experience, partly made possible by the Eugene Lang Opportunity Award I received, was fulfilling in every way I hoped it would be and more. I really feel as though through the experience, the journalistic confidence I held within myself really grew. This was the first time I felt as though I was able to focus solely on my work as a journalist, and a project that I was fully passionate about and motivated to do everyday. It really felt exciting to be “on assignment”, especially in Amsterdam because it was a city I had never been to before. I also had the opportunity to try my hand at food writing and restaurant reviewing, which was a new challenge for me as a writer as well.
In the majority of my interviews, I was able to speak to people about their connection to the Black and African Diaspora. I had the opportunity to talk to a lot of people about how they navigated being Black/of African descent in their specific city, and what it meant to be black where they lived. I got to really see what everyday life was for the majority of my interviewees through the time I spent with them. Fortunately, this work is something I have been able to continue through my senior capstone and is something I’m still working on now. I really happy it has become an ongoing project and I look forward to where it goes next.
Some of my interviews can be found here!: https://makingsofmanja.com/the-identify-project-2019