Here at Black & Abroad, we work to ensure that our mission concedes simple brand recognition.
Often along the way, we encounter other like-minded individuals that have successfully mastered the space beyond their anticipated approach to empower the diaspora.
These are the influencers, visionaries, and tastemakers that have managed to successfully employ their own blueprints to create a better world for us tomorrow.
Throughout this series, we will present to you a hand-picked line-up of black-owned & operated brands and individuals that deserve your consideration.
That deserve your support.
That deserve your attention.
Welcome to the Black & Abroad Conversation Series.
We've all heard it before: the world is your oyster. Though most of us are relatively familiar with the age-old Shakespearean expression, not many of us can speak to discovering the prized pearl that awaits inside. Imagine traveling to the far corners of the world in search, only to discover that the proverbial pearl was in your possession the entire time. That's the story of Liz Henry. Take a quick scroll through her Instagram and you'll find yourself lost in remote destinations from the ancient cities of Kusadasi, Turkey, to the varied terrain of Crete, Greece, to the more familiar white sand beaches of Dubai. What's more elusive however, is one of the motivating forces behind this NYC educator's world-class jaunts: The Black Pearl Program. We recently caught up with Liz for more details about this endeavor, along with a few of her travel tips. Check out our conversation below:
Welcome to Black & Abroad Conversations! Tell us about yourself.
I’m Liz Henry, a NYC Education Consultant, Educator and Co-Founder of The Black Pearl Program. The Black PEARL© (Pretty, Educated, Aware, Refined, Ladies) Program is an initiative created by my sister Phylicia Henry and I which is designed to teach and encourage young women on how to tap into their inner being and accept who they are instead of what they are not. We are devoted to educating young girls on self-confidence and a positive self-esteem. After graduating from Syracuse University I took a position as an Educator. As an educator I have witnessed many disheartening situations from our girls of color that stem from societies perception of black women. We could not find approved vendors from the municipality to offer programs in schools that could help our struggling female students of color with self- esteem issues. We decided to create our own.
What are your main reasons for travel?
Originally travel for me was a means to decompress. Providing the guidance needed to teach girls of color how to persevere through difficult situations is emotionally draining work. Traveling allows me to recharge my “batteries” by disconnecting me from my regular life. Though travel is a stress remover it has turned out to give me back more than I could expect. Now travel gives me a new perspective about my life. Discovering different cultures, values and different ways people live globally has given me an appreciation of my freedom and opportunities.
When and where was your first trip abroad? What countries have you visited since?
As a Jamaican, visiting neighboring Caribbean islands has always been something we did as a family growing up. Outside of the Caribbean I have been to countries in Central America: Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, Honduras. South America: Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador. Europe: France, Amsterdam, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Turkey. Asia: China, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Thailand. Hoping to check out parts of Africa this summer.
As a person of color, have you ever been subjected to certain stereotypes on your travels?
In Dubai while visiting different venues my friends and I would find we would be asked for ID. Now this is not an abnormal request entering clubs and lounges, but when you notice everyone else not getting carded for admission you raise your eyebrow. One evening we gained admission into a sports bar after debating with security for about 20 minutes to why others were not asked for ID. A few guys who were from Nigeria saw our ordeal and kindly explained that many venues in Dubai asked for ID from all black patrons especially black women as many are in the country illegally. He explained that many black women are in the business of prostitution. Requesting ID reduces the possibility of solicitation, as illegals do not have ID.
As a black woman, have you noticed a heightened appreciation from men in certain parts of the world?
Having family that lives in the South of France and visiting during the summer months I must say that French men have a great appreciation for darker complexion. From romantic dinners in St. Tropez to long walks on the Promenade in Nice. French men are all about the romance. You will see many black women with French men in the South.
What have your travels taught you about yourself?
I have learned to count my blessings more and acknowledge everything I receive. My travel experiences have made me realize the importance of enjoying more of life’s simple pleasures. Giving thanks has made me happier and more resilient.
What’s the best advice you can give a person looking to travel abroad for the first time?
Just go! The excuse that travel is expensive can no longer be used. There are many apps, travel groups and websites that make travel affordable. Don’t wait for others. You can find many groups with like-minded individuals who also enjoy travel.
Where can we find you online?
The Black Pearl Program
What are some of your main reasons for travel? Let us know in the comments below!