There are two groups of people in the travel space, those who count countries and those who do not. I am in the former group. And I am currently on a journey to visit all of the countries in the world, so I have to keep count! Upon completion, I will be the first black woman to travel to all of the countries in the world.

I started counting countries a few years back because of my lifelong desire to travel to every country in the world, meaning I needed to keep track of where I have been. I have been traveling internationally since I was a child; I boarded my first transatlantic flight with my family in 1991. We first visited England which was my third country (the US and Canada being the first two), to visit family, on our way to Uganda to visit more family. …

If you have not heard by now, the president of the United States of America, while in a meeting discussing a bipartisan immigration deal inside of the White House, made the following remarks, “Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They’re shithole countries … We should have more people from Norway.” The term “shithole countries” was also used to refer to Haiti and El Salvador.

The reason that America needs immigrants from these “shithole countries” is because we make America great! And isn’t that the whole premise of his political platform? According to a Pew Research study, as of 2013, 38 percent of sub-Saharan African immigrants had a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 28 percent of all U.S. immigrants and 30 percent of the U.S.-born population. Sub-Saharan Africans participated in the labor force at a higher rate than the overall immigrant and U.S.-born populations. In 2015, about 75 percent of sub-Saharan immigrants (ages 16 and over) were in the civilian labor force, compared to 66 percent and 62 percent of the overall foreign- and native-born populations, respectively. …

Not everyone is born where they belong. I am a traveler. I always have been. From the age of six when my parents took me on my first trip to Uganda to spinning the family globe and looking up different locations in the encyclopedia, I always explored the world, both physically and as a matter of daydreaming. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, my parents took us to various Caribbean Islands, Mexico, Canada, the UK, and of course multiple trips to Uganda. I always knew that the world was accessible to me. When I was 22 and working full time, I decided to take a trip to London, Madrid and Paris to hang with some friends. I was nervous because it was my first transatlantic flight by myself, I didn’t know what I would do on a plane, alone, for seven hours. I survived it, with a book, a few drinks and a pair of headphones. Though I faced challenges navigating Paris solo, challenges that led to a lot of tears, I survived. I knew at that point I could, and wanted to travel more. In 2008, when I cut off my hair and moved to Japan, after the first six months abroad I proclaimed that I would not live in the US for three years. That three years turned into seven and calling five countries home on four continents. Though my childhood introduced to me to travel and served as a courting period, moving abroad is what solidified my marriage to travel. …

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An image from the upcoming film, The Birth of a Nation.

On Tuesday I went to a screening of the highly anticipated film, the Birth of a Nation. The film is a passion project of actor, writer, director and producer Nate Parker. Recently, Parker’s 17-year old rape case, a case in which he was acquitted, came to light and as a result, many people are boycotting the movie.

Many of my friends were surprised that I was not boycotting the movie. I am not boycotting the movie because the Birth of a Nation is not a monologue, it is a feature-length film that had more than 400 people involved in its production. Though, yes, it is the brain child of Parker, I am separating the art from the artist. Many people, including artists have committed indiscretions. Some have gone to court, some we may never know about, some we may find out about in due time. I am not defending this behavior. …

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In less than one month I will be 32 years old. I am not sure how that happened because I still feel like I’m in my mid 20s, and I would like to think my face also looks like it is still in its mid-20s. While I have not taken the traditional life path since graduating college (I tried it and decided it was not for me), I still find that at times I am required to adult.

You may or may not be familiar with the term, adulting, and while writing this I see a red squiggly line under the word, I assure you it is a real word. …


Jessica Nabongo

106 of 195 UN countries and counting. | journeying to be the first black woman to travel to all of the countries in the world. |

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