Ike Anderson had an experience in Ghana that would change the trajectory of his family’s life. “We were at one of the former enslavement dungeons, and I had an overwhelming feeling of every emotion possible,” he says, “because I felt I had an ancestor who came to Jamaica as a result of the atrocities there.” In front of his three children and his wife, Natalee, Ike sobbed. His kids held his hands quietly.
“For them to hold space for me to be vulnerable in front of them was powerful,” Ike says.
It might never have happened in their normal, busy lives in West Palm Beach, Florida. But it was precisely the transformative experience they had been seeking when they decided — about 18 months earlier — to travel the world together and learn about where their family of five comes from.
“The kids were basically born and raised in Florida,” says Natalee. “We wanted to give them a global mind-set of what’s really going on in the world.”
As a first step, Ike and Natalee ordered three different mail-in ancestry-DNA kits. When the results arrived, they charted an itinerary through the regions and countries traversed by their ancestors: West Africa, Egypt, England, Ireland, Scotland, and India.
Planning and Preparing
Next came telling the kids. Sisters Jasmine and Kaylee — ages 13 and 11 — immediately worried about missing school, friends, and their 14-year-old cat, Manni. Eight-year-old Layton thought it was a joke.
What made it real for them, says Natalee, “was purchasing a wall-size map and involving them in the planning.” The family met weekly, and everyone researched where they wanted to go. They added a few dream stops, includ-
ing Paris, Australia, and Bali. About a year passed between the birth of their idea and embarkation.
Health and safety were Ike’s biggest worries, and he admits to having second thoughts “every day until we got on…