The bodies we bring with us throughout the world hold different meanings in different spaces. Your skin color, hair type, or the shape of your facial features are just a few of the characteristics that may connect you with others or identify you as different. When visiting a new place, it’s important to know some key details about who lives there, the history of their community, and what it might be like for you to live there temporarily.

Racism is a global phenomenon. It can be really complicated to be African American in an African country. And what if you’re Vietnamese American and curious about going to Vietnam to explore your family origin—what might you experience? Though it’s impossible to know all of the ins and outs around race and ethnicity in a particular place, there are several resources that might help you begin to grapple with these important questions.

  • How does the country I am visiting define “American” (for example, is “American” synonymous with “white”)?
  • Does the country I am visiting accommodate my aesthetic needs (hair, nails, skin products, etc.)? Have I talked with others who share my race/ethnicity that have traveled internationally?
  • Have I researched how people of my race/ethnicity are viewed and treated in the country I am visiting?