The Black Expat: ‘My Desire To Grow As A Man Led Me To Move To Kuwait’
By DeAnna Taylor
For many Black Americans, the desire to move and work abroad is at the top of their list. However, for varying reasons many never take that leap to do so.
Cessel Taylor aka ‘CJ’ wasn’t afraid to take the leap. The Griffin, Georgia native currently lives in Kuwait where he works as a middle school English teacher and athletic coach. So far, he has been in the middle eastern country for one year and doesn’t regret making the move.
We had the chance to speak with him via email to learn more about his life in Kuwait and how life abroad compares to that here in America.
Travel Noire: What inspired you to move abroad?
CJ: As I began to research ways in which I could grow as an educator, the idea of growing as a person took precedence. It was my hope that by leaving my comfort zone, I would adapt and realize my full and true potential. Additionally, the opportunity to travel the world was one I simply could not pass up.
TN: Why did you choose Kuwait?
CJ: I dreamed of living in Dubai for years. However, I was advised to research other countries and make the choice that would best suit my personal goals. I learned that in Kuwait I could save money, live in a central location to many countries and that I would have access to a very tight-knit black community. Kuwait is warm year-round and experiences a very brief rainy season. I can honestly say that Kuwait has met my expectations.
TN: What is an average workday like for you?
CJ: My workday starts at 7:30 A.M. and ends at 2:30 P.M. The typical workweek in Kuwait is Sunday-Thursday, and the weekend is Friday-Saturday. Being that my workday ends so early, work-life balance is good. The gyms in Kuwait are world-class, so I spend a lot of time there. Since there are no bars or clubs, social outings usually entail hanging out at the mall or game nights at a friend’s place.
TN: How does life in Kuwait compare to life back in America?
CJ: I feel safer in Kuwait than I do in America. The crime rate is significantly lower, and I don’t feel like a target simply because of the way I look. For instance, I wear my facial hair longer than the standard professional length by American norms. As opposed to often standing out in a negative or threatening light in America, my choice of facial hair style becomes a conversation piece.
I find myself making friends because people want to know more about me. I am often the first black man that people have met. Those encounters are usually very entertaining, to say the least. As a teacher, I feel that my expertise, background, and education are more appreciated. My students are convinced that I am a former pro athlete because of my stature. I utilize my platform here to show students, and people in general, that black men have talents that expand far beyond athletics.
TN: What is the cost of living like there?
CJ: The Kuwaiti Dinar is the most powerful currency in the world, so Kuwait is not cheap! Everything is more expensive. One Kuwaiti Dinar is equal to approximately three U.S. dollars. As a teacher, I receive accommodations (furnished apartment and healthcare) as part of my salary package, so I don’t feel the impact of the cost of living as much.
TN: Tell me about your nonprofit back in the states?
CJ: 3E Programs, Inc. is an organization that provides college and career exposure to underrepresented populations. The organization was co-founded by Dr. Marquita Taylor, Mr. RaQuaam Smith, and myself. We recently hosted our first program at Yale University in June. Additionally, we plan to program at UCLA, VCU, and Howard University next summer.
TN: How long do you see yourself living abroad? Why?
CJ; I am entering my 2nd year in Kuwait. I am operating with a “go with the flow” mindset right now. I would love to live and work in another country once my time in Kuwait is complete. I will continue this journey until the pros no longer outweigh the cons.
TN: Any advice to other Black men wanting to make that leap?
CJ: Be great, black man! Be smart, use discretion, and be vigilant. But by all means, GO. This world is OURS too.
TN: Where can we find you online?
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel blogger, author, and writer. While Charlotte, NC (her hometown) is her base, she's always somewhere on a plane. Catch her on IG: @brokeandabroadlife.