Here She Comes
Russia. Ghana. China. France. Every summer, Bryn Mawr students travel across the globe for internships, study abroad programs, and more. For some, it will be their very first time leaving the country. But for others, it’s just one more step in their journey as lifelong global learners. Just ask Aisha Soumaoro ’21, who’s had enough travel experiences to fill a book.
We mean it—she co-authored a book.
Titled She’s Ready: Inspiring Travel Stories and Wanderlust Guide for Women Travelers, the book touches on an issue that’s close to Soumaoro’s heart: the experiences of women of color who have traveled the world. It offers both personal testimonies from eight collaborators who have done so and space for reflection by readers who might pursue the same.
The book’s curator, Rashell Evans, has acted as Soumaoro’s mentor for years. Rashell founded Statement Junky, the nonprofit behind She’s Ready.
A youth development and global leadership program for girls of color, Statement Junky equips girls to navigate economic and social barriers within their community and abroad through leadership, education, exploration, and positive identity development. At the conclusion of each program, all girls are gifted with an essential key to access the
world: their first passport.
“Women of color and their experiences are often put on the back burner,” says Soumaoro. “But at the same time, traveling is a really important aspect of our often transnational identity.”
Although Soumaoro calls New York City home, she’s lived her life all over; she was born in the United States, grew up in Guinea, and returned to the States at the age of seven. When she was 14 or 15, she went to Ecuador without her parents—and there, for the first time, she felt the weight of her identity, both as a woman and as a person of color.
“I was really alert about my safety,” she says. “I felt like I needed a safe bridge between me and the outside world.”
Soumaoro’s travels have taken her to countries around the world, including South Africa, Ecuador, and Egypt. Most recently, she traveled in Bryn Mawr-sponsored programs such as Lagim Tehi Tuma, a Summer Action Research fellowship. The experience of being abroad as a woman of color, she says, is “a constant process of reevaluation and awareness.”
Once the book was out, Soumaoro was soon back to her everyday schedule. She’s planning to major in sociology, while balancing work at the library with executive board duties on BACaSO, and managing her own handmade headwrap line, Printed Braids.
Still, she’s excited to start more conversations about travel as a woman of color.
“It’s really important to discuss everything transparently—your finances, your safety, your mental health—and to have support doing that. I hope this book creates the momentum for people to find themselves, recognize their own stories, and/or find peace with the experience they had.”
A Must Read
“She’s Ready is the manifesto for women who aspire to explore the world and find themselves at the end of their journey. The inspiring stories and compiling guide will show you how to drop the fear-inducing, big picture obsession over the infamous question Who am I? to highlight the positive impact that travel can have on women seeking to align who she is with her life’s purpose.”
— From the Statement Junky Website