Elon University’s Global Education Center will host a presentation and discussion on the history of Black travel and study abroad Feb. 8. The event, “Resistance and Resilience: Black Travel Past & Present,” is part of the series of events celebrating Black History Month at Elon University.
The presentation will be led by guest speaker Charis Tucker, creator and host of STAMPED, a study abroad podcast that explores the lived experiences of study abroad and travel movements for Black and African American students. Tucker’s research focuses on race and tourism, which she uses to explore topics related to the history of Black travel. She’s currently a Ph.D student at Virginia Tech’s Howard Feiertag Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management.
Maia Stewart, program coordinator for Elon’s GEC, said she met Tucker at a diversity-abroad conference in October 2022 and was interested in her experience with international education and global programming. Tucker’s knowledge on the history of Black travel is what encouraged the GEC to invite her to speak on campus and share a part of Black history that is not often discussed.
“She's coming at it from a historical perspective, but also how the history of Black travel has influenced the current, modern Black travel movement,” Stewart said.
Stewart said this event is one way for the Elon community to be educated about the study abroad experience for students with different and marginalized identities. It’s also a way to prepare students who are interested in studying abroad with information.
Understanding the history of Black travel and its influence also feeds into the GEC’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Plan. The 52 goals in the plan were created to serve Elon students and their global studies from a DEI standpoint. Some of the goals specifically highlight plans to expand gathering information about student identity and experiences during time abroad that can inform future practices for the GEC office. This includes hosting focus groups of returned global engagement participants, reviewing return evaluations and implementing a strategy to enhance advising practices.
“I want students to really know that we are here for them,” Stewart said. “We are trying to not correct the past, but we learn from the past. We're trying to create initiatives that are for students of certain identities.”
Senior Jaelan Price said this event is an opportunity to learn more about studying abroad as a Black or African American student, since it can be a difficult experience for some. Price studied in Sevilla, Spain, her junior year, and said there were both good and tough times in her experience as a minority abroad.
“I think every person who goes abroad will say it was great, but it was also hard. For me, it was the longest that I've ever been away from family or really good friends, especially without finding a community of my own,” Price said. “There isn't a lot of diversity in Spain, so that was really hard even while being with other American students. It didn't feel super welcoming all the time.”
Price said despite her difficult moments abroad, it’s still important to share lived experiences in order to educate others who plan on studying abroad in the future.
“They need to prepare themselves for what may be and just know that they may have to really take themselves out of their comfort zone and constantly put themselves out there,” Price said.
Elon University will continue to host events celebrating Black history throughout February. This year’s theme is “The Black Renaissance: Revive, Reclaim, Rejoice,” which focuses on the intellectual and cultural revival of African American music, dance, art and culture.