Soli Deo Gloria

Photography by Ashleigh Reddy: stayreddy.com

It is often said that travel changes you, not only did my recent trip to Italy change me; it gracefully wrecked my soul and challenged everything I thought I wanted.

For one week, I traveled with 13 strangers from across the US with Travel Noire. Travel Noire is a digital publishing platform that curates experiences and resources for travelers of the black diaspora.

I worked three jobs, painfully listened to people who called me unrealistic, and prayed a ton — all for a chance to experience the world in a brand new way.

Dancing in the pizza shops with little girls, getting lost, riding a scooter with Raffaele or painting with Vicotiro are a few priceless experiences that I had while in Italy. Oh and let’s not forget that my team for the week turned every activity into a concert #grouuup.

I had a taste of what my world could look like. I had taste of the life that I could create for myself. I thought I had pretty big dreams before, but from looking on the other side of the ocean I realized that my dreams were only a speck of what I can accomplish.

It’s so hard to put into words the transformation that takes place when you travel, because a part of me wants for you to so desperately go and experience the other side of the ocean for yourself.

Bringing 13 strangers together for one week scared me, it sounded like an episode of the real-world gone wrong. But as my faith would tell me nothing is by accident. The people I met were hand picked for me to meet and for our paths to cross.

For one week I promised myself that I would be my authentic self. So I might have laughed a little louder or loved a little harder than usual — but I was free.

I spent the majority of my time reflecting on what it means to build community. I thought a lot about the community I currently have and the one I want to build. I want to be surrounded by visionaries, doers and lovers. People who can dream God-sized goals, love like crazy and remember that life is about the journey and not the destination. I’m working on becoming those things for the people already in my community.

My week was life changing. It not only changed the way I view the world, but the way I see myself.

If this black girl from Columbus, Ohio can make her way all the way to Italy then who knows what trails I can blaze next…

Soli Deo Gloria

Translation: Glory to God alone

Photography by Ashleigh Reddy: stayreddy.com
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