We are in a booth at Ben's Chili Bowl, a black owned restaurant in Washington, DC sitting next to a black family enjoying their food and conversation in the 1960's. Next we are listening to two elderly ladies, one 85 years old and the other 101 years old, talking about traveling while black. Finally, we are in near tears as Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice, is in front of us retelling the story of her 12 year old son's death. How she sat in the front passenger seat of the ambulance while her son, Tamir, was in the back of the ambulance because of a gunshot wound inflicted upon by a Cleveland police officer..
We are back in Columbia, SC at the Richland County Public Library. No, we did not leave Columbia and traveled back in time, but in this VR Experience you are sitting at the restaurant table or on a bus heading south, listening to these trailblazers up close and personal. We listened intently to their stories, such as not being able to hop off the bus to use the restroom because of "White only" establishments (hotels, restaurants, gas stations, etc) as they entered the state of Virginia and the states below. Blacks were only able to stop at establishments listed in The Green Book.
After viewing this VR Experience we realized not only how privileged we are to travel, but also the need to still be careful. You maybe pulled over in your car simply because of the color of your skin. However, it shouldn't stop you or give you the fear to travel. We don't have the Green Book today, but the opportunity to freely travel to any destination our heart desires. We recently curated various travel itineraries for in-state, out-of-state, and abroad travels. See the sample itinerary below that was adapted from one of the several Greenbookofsc.com regional itineraries. We can customize each tour for your educational, business, church, and/or family needs..
Want to view the Traveling While Black VR Experience in-person. The Central Carolina Community Foundation, newly located in the Bullstreet District in Columbia, SC, will host an experience on Tuesday, February 19 from 4:00pm-7:00pm. This Sundance Film Festival VR documentary is traveling to various venues throughout the country. Be on the lookout for the Traveling While Black VR Experience in your community.
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Rhonda W. & Sharee W.
Where do you currently reside?
Jersey City, NJ
Many people first time abroad is to Europe. Why India? Where did you stay?
It was for a class trip. We stayed at Hotel Ajanta in Delhi and with students at our university's partnering college[near Ahmedabad, the largest city in the state of Gujarat].
How long did you stay in India?
Was this your first time traveling abroad?
What was the passport process to go to India if this was your first time abroad?
The process for acquiring a passport to India was trying. A lot of information was needed to substantiate my identity as I was a first-time applicant for a passport. The visa application was fairly easy. I received my notice of approval the day after submitting the application.
What was the most challenging aspect of being in India?
The most challenging part of being in India was adjusting from an individualistic culture to a collectivist culture. Not to mention differences in living varied greatly.
What were the most interesting or fun times you had?
The most interesting and fun times were getting to know and spend time with the students at our partnering college and partaking in the closing ceremony of the student exchange program by dressing in traditional Gujarati attire and learning their dances and other cultural forms of celebration.
Did you travel beyond your central location in India? If “Yes”, where?
Yes. We visited Agra to see the Taj Mahal.
Where will you be traveling to next or want to travel to domestically/abroad?
Travel abroad, I would love to travel to Africa. As for domestic travel, I would love to take a cross country trip.
Full disclosure - Alyssa is our 2nd cousin. Thank you Alyssa for taking the time to share your first experience traveling abroad. Continue to go see the world.
Have you studied abroad in High School or College? If "Yes", where did you travel to? What was your experience?
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Rhonda & Sharee Washington