When I first heard about the Passport Party Project I immediately knew it was a program I wanted to get involved with. I started hearing tidbits about it early this year on Twitter and with a little research, found out it’s an amazing program that grants girls ages 11-16 their first passport, and most of the girls just happen to be brown like me? I was all in and immediately signed up to host the party when it comes to New York next year. Not long after, I heard about Kenji Summers’ Passport Project, funded by the Marcus Graham Project and realized there is a new movement of programs that are giving passports to diverse people in our communities.
I decided as an avid traveler it’s my responsibility to give back and these types of programs are the perfect way to do so! However, fundraising has never been my thing (I sucked at selling $2 girl scout cookies so imagine me asking people for $20 for programs they had never heard of.)
I do have experience, however, with hosting events so in my mission to promote these amazing programs and others like it, I chose to throw a holiday party with a twist! Imagine if you could board a plane that stopped at 6 destinations around the world that you could visit with one ticket. In first class there’s a full bar with a diverse range of cocktails as well as samples of international food and there’s a DJ spinning the best of music from around the world in the rear of the plane. The vision for this event was exactly that and I had the most awesome crew on board to pull it off.
Magner’s Cider sponsored the event with their apple and pear ciders that pack more punch than you anticipate (non-beer drinking ladies take note – there’s now a sweet alternative to dousing your Corona in grenadine)
The Haiti Table was curated by some awesome friends of mine of Haitian descent, Frantzie Bazile, Sendy Chancy and Marie Lebrun. These ladies have traveled to the country recently for various trips to give back to the earthquake-stricken nation and are heavily involved (and proud of) their Haitian culture. The table featured artwork, a slideshow of their mission trips to Haiti, Haitian Cultural Exchange brochures, homemade Pikliz, shots of Barbancourt rum, Black rice made from dried mushrooms and shrimp (Du Riz avec Djon-djon et Ecrevisse) and Haitian Pâté Puffs Chicken and Beef. And some punch that I need to recipe for (hint, hint ahem, Frantzie lol)
The Ghana table was curated by my friend and fellow Trinidad Carnival masquerader Cassandra Nuamah (who is in Ghana celebrating the New Year as I type this). The Ghana table featured the infamous jollof rice, a ‘Dua Korkor’ Oware Table Game, kente fabric, Ghanaian flag, a mask from the artists market in Accra and various artifacts and artwork. Click here for stories about my trip to Ghana this time last year.
The South Africa table was curated by two friends of mine who are also travel addicts who live in Brooklyn, Marcella Tillett and Maisha Husband. Both of them have spent time in South Africa as well as other countries in the southern region of Africa and were gracious enough to donate some stunning pieces of artwork including woven plates from South Africa using a traditional basket weaving style, sculptures from Zimbabwe, Shona style stone scuptures representing family, unity and love and masks originally from Southern & East Africa, purchased from traders in South Africa and Namibia. The male/female pair were said to be fertility masks and the black/white one represents welcoming (in a hospitable sense). The table also featured a guide to Southern africa and a biography on anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko.
The Trinidad & Tobago table was curated by yours truly 🙂 Everything on the table was from my trip to Trinidad Carnival 2011 this past March including our Monday Wear Remix outfit, the Digicel scarf I wore during J’ouvert, my mask and costume from Carnival Tuesday, photos and a slideshow video from our weekend. Click here for more stories from the most fun week of my adult life.
Jamaica & Barbados are two countries that should just give me citizenship because I will be going back for the rest of my life. I began traveling to Jamaica in college with the International Medical Outreach Program and put together a photo album of my experience for the table. The Jamaica Travel & Tourism office sponsored the event with travel guides and super cute table calendars. The Barbados section contained a few items I brought back from my trip last month including shots of Mount Gay Rum, rum truffles, and pink sand (Yes, it’s real. Pink “ish”, but real.)
Guests were offered samples of wines from around the world and beer donated by Vanberg & Dewulf including Foret Blanche, a Belgian white beer, and Saison Dupont, a Belgian Farmhouse Ale.
Food was available for sampling as well, including dishes from Nigeria and Jamaica. Buka New York has been touted by the Village Voice among others as the best Nigerian Restaurant in New York. They were gracious enough to donate jollof rice for the event which received rave reviews! The Islands is Prospect Heights’ best kept secret in Caribbean cooking. A bona-fide hidden “hole in the wall” near the Brooklyn Museum but hands down the BEST Jamaican food I’ve had in New York. They donated jerk chicken and rice and peas for us to sample. If you’ve never been to either restaurant, definitely give them a try this winter during hibernation season.
This was supposed to be an actual map but what had happened was, I realized I can’t really draw and my geography ain’t as um…precise as it was in high school so er…yeah, you get the idea. We had a wall where you could tag your travels and it was interesting to see where in the world young Black travelers gravitate towards. Nobody has been to Australia! Can you say group trip? *calls up Evita Robinson of Nomad•ness Travel Tribe*
Guest who wanted to take a fun twist on a passport photo were offered a makeup touch-up by Kris Mari makeup. While most guest already had passports (which is inspiring in and of itself) it was a fun option for camera hams like myself 🙂
So remember the DJ in the back of the hypothetical plane that I mentioned earlier? Here he is spinning the best of soca, dancehall, world music, and Brooklyn from Fela Kuti to the Notorious B.I.G. and kept everyone who was already feeling happy off the Magners cider even happier off the tunes. DJ Sean of BKrepertoire is (in my humble but extremely important opinion) one of NY’s best kept secrets in the DJ scene so if you wanna check him out come by Voudou Lounge in Brooklyn on Saturday nights (but don’t tell nobody cause this is my crew’s spot and you can’t have it).
Raffle Prizes included Dirt Bag travel totes donated by Nomad•ness TV, Kiratiana’s Travel Guide to Black Paris, a bottle of Hennessy White and the grand prize of 3 nights at Coconut Grove Hotel in Ghana. All raffle proceeds will go to support passport programs for diverse youth. Guests also left with a gift bag complete with Hobnob Drive Black Travel guides, sponsored by Steed Media and Street King Energy shot samples, the proceeds of which combat starvation in African countries.
Thanks so much to everyone who came out to support the first travel event/holiday party/fundraiser/1 year anniversary party for Brooklyn Travel Addict! There were so many sponsors and people who donated and helped out, including my amazing hostess Evita Robinson of Nomad•ness Travel Tribe who has an international movement of young diverse travelers on Facebook (ahem, if you’re into traveling like for real, hit her up and get down with the Tribe.)
And who knows, maybe we’ll do it again this summer? Maybe it could be the Jetsetters’ Summer Soiree and it could be outside on a rooftop? Or by some water and we can feature even more countries, have more sponsors and celebrate all the new places we have been between now and then? Who knows 🙂