Russia. Ghana. China. France. This summer, Bryn Mawr students will be traveling across the globe for internships, study abroad programs, and more. For some, it’s 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 ’20, who’s had enough travel experiences to fill a book.
We mean it—she co-authored a book.
Titled She’s Ready, the book touches on an issue that’s close to Aisha’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 may pursue the same.
The book’s curator, Rashell Evans, has acted as Aisha’s mentor for years. Rashell founded the organization behind She’s Ready, Statement Junky, which provides passports for young women of color to travel the world.
“Women of color and their experiences are often put on the back burner,” says Aisha. “But at the same time, traveling is a really important aspect of our often transnational identity.”
While Aisha calls New York City home, she’s lived her life all over; she was born in the U.S., 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, abroad.
“I was really alert about my safety. I felt like I needed a safe bridge between me and the outside world.”
Aisha’s travels have taken her to countries around the world, including South Africa, Ecuador, and Egypt. Most recently, she’s traveled in Bryn Mawr-sponsored programs like 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.”
Now that the book is out, Aisha is back to her everyday schedule: she’s planning to major in sociology, 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.”
As for Aisha’s plans this summer? She’s not sure yet, but she’s confident she’ll be able to handle whatever comes next.
Says Aisha, “Who knows where I’ll end up?”