The Traveling Chameleon Blog
“Chameleon: 1. any variety of lizard that can change the color of their skin 2. one that is capable of quick or frequent change especially in appearance 3. A person who adjusts themselves to fit into any situation including their appearance, interests, opinions, personalities.”
As an undergraduate, I took a sociology class on race relations and while struggling with my identity and where I fit in, I asked my professor, “Well in sociological terms, what race am I?” My professor told me “You are what we call a chameleon.” I thought to myself, “Great now I am even more confused. So, I am a species of lizard?” He went on to explain since my racial category is somewhat ambiguous, my identify changes or ‘camouflages’ to the ethnic or racial group I am around. Though I have struggled with this throughout my life, as I embark on this journey, I have come to see this ambiguity and ability to ‘fit in’ and be flexible in many places not only in terms of ethnicity, but socially, environmentally etc. as a unique gift. As I was thinking about a theme that tied all my travels together I thought about my identity as a ‘chameleon’ and how I will find ways to ‘blend’ in each area of the world and what insights this will provide.
This blog will chronicle my journey and experiences as I travel the world for the next 8 months sharing stories of those who I come across as well as my own process around my identity. Although I cannot commit to always being eloquent or concise, I hope to be open, honest in my posts and reveal the multiple layers of each situation as well as the unique lens through which I experience the world.
In each country I visit, I plan to explore the histories and current context of various displaced and persecuted communities and gather their unique stories of both joy and struggle. In addition, I will unravel how the intersections of my identity continue to shift and grow throughout my journey. I hope to draw from my personal experience as a first-generation American and my advocacy work with immigrant populations in Seattle throughout my world travels. Most importantly I hope to continue to utilize relationship building and human connection as a way to cultivate healing and growth both for myself and those I meet throughout my travels. I hope to honor the hardships and experiences of the people in each country by folding their stories into my future life, career, understanding of the world and who I am as a person.
My travels are sponsored and made possible through the University of Washington’s Bonderman Fellowship, a unique grant designated for independent international travel.
A special thanks to Ali N. who helped with the set up, design and maintenance of this website.