Black Meetings and Tourism

September / October 2020

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B M & T ••• September/October 2020 ••• 28 TRAVEL IS GOOD FOR MY HEALTH I'm the founder and CEO of #afreeblackgirl, a new Denver-based company dedicated to inspiring women to get free, using travel as their/our moti- vation. It took traveling internationally by myself in 2016 (after essential- ly not traveling outside the U.S. since a high school trip nearly 30 years ago) to help me step outside my comfort zone and start living as my freest – and healthiest – self. Since 2016, I have traveled solo to: London (twice); Paris (twice); Amsterdam; Lisbon (twice) and Porto, Portugal; Kuala Lumpur and Malacca, Malaysia; Singapore; and Seville, Córdoba, Granada and Cádiz, Spain. I also made my first trip to Africa last summer where I traveled with a group of about 25 Black adults and youth from the U.S. to Accra, Kumasi, Cape Coast, Elmina and Agona Duakwa, Ghana. Each trip has brought with it a lot of deep self-reflection (with the help of journaling), shedding of thoughts that no longer serve me, and a com- mitment to living life without self-imposed boundaries or limitations. To celebrate the newfound me, I started calling myself #afreeblackgirl in 2016, and the name stuck! Friends and family even started calling me #afreeblackgirl, and countless people sent me messages asking how they, too, can get free. Women asked if they could start traveling with me. One friend went as far as to say that she wanted to join the #afreeblackgirl "movement." Wow. So, here we are. I want to build a movement made up of women – particularly Black women – journeying towards their inner freedom, using travel as their/our inspiration. Through deeply self-reflective inter- national and domestic travel opportunities with me, education and con- BY CAROLYN ASH

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