I AM C.U.L.T.U.R.E.D. Helps Black High Schoolers Travel The World
By Parker Diakite
Since Karmia Berry launched I AM C.U.L.T.U.R.E.D. in 2017, she has helped at least 30 African American 10th-grade high school students travel abroad.
With the goal to promote self-empowerment and an appreciation for cultural richness and diversity, the Brooklyn-based organization has coordinated international trips to Cuba, Belize, and most recently, Ghana for the “Year of the Return” campaign.
The acronym “C.U.L.T.U.R.E.D.” connects to a self-affirmation used throughout the program to develop dreamers, believers, and achievers: Confident, Unique, Leading, Tenacious, Unstoppable, Regal, Educated, and Daring.
In an interview with Berry, she discussed what inspired the organization:
Travel Noire: What inspired you to launch I AM C.U.L.T.U.R.E.D.
Berry: I am an avid traveler. I’ve been traveling since I was very small because it was very important for my parents to expose me to other cultures through traveling abroad. What that did for me socially, intellectually, and also psychologically, I wanted to pass that on and pay it forward to young people.
TN: Why do you focus on 10th-grade students?
Berry: Because that is a very vital time. They just completed their adjustment year coming into high school and are going to start preparing for their college prep courses. Allowing them to travel and explore other cultures really does spark ideas.
It motivates them, gives them self empowerment, builds confidence, and it improves test scores. It also improves cultural awareness and sensitivity. I felt 10th grade would be the best time.
TN: What do the students learn throughout this two-year program?
Berry: Our program starts off with the cultural series where we are preparing them for the country that we are traveling to. That means educating them on foreign currency to prepare them on how to convert the U.S. dollar to the country’s currency. We are learning foreign languages and a crash course on key phrases they can say while they’re traveling.
We also teach culinary and wellness classes where they are participating in a cooking class and learning about fashion.
We don’t want our young people to just hop on a plane and expose them to a new world without proper preparation.
TN: What do you envision for your organization 10 or 20 years from now?
Berry: We want to impact more high school students, of course. We want to create and uplift more global citizens, specifically our young brown and black kings and queens.
We want to create more opportunities where our young people are more culturally aware, and then one day, are going back into their leadership roles as educators, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs and paying it forward as a humanitarian philanthropist.
TN: So, where are you all going next?
Berry: Great question! We have an annual fundraising gala to raise money so that our young people don’t have to pay the full amount to travel. During our gala, that happens every spring, we ask our guests to vote on where we should go next. I don’t have the answer just yet, but so far, we’ve traveled to the Caribbean, Central America, and Africa.
You can follow I Am Cultured’s adventures on Instagram.