A couple months ago I saw a post by Nigerian author and speaker Luvvie Jones on instagram about this topic, and since it has impacted my most recent travel experiences directly, I have chosen to address my feelings about it here.
Americans and most people from western world countries hold some of the world’s most powerful passports. Americans can freely travel to over 180 countries without a visa, meanwhile people from countries such as Cameroon or Pakistan can travel to way less than that. Why is this? The answer is quite simple. It seems to be assumed in global relations that the farther west your passport is from, the more respect it deserves.
Not many people recognize this, even those that travel a lot. However in today’s society where immigration is becoming a larger issue on a global scale, the harder it is to ignore. When I travel I have had various interactions with people based on the languages that I speak and the passport that I carry. When I traveled throughout Cameroon with my American passport I was immediately responded to with attentiveness and consideration. I have traveled independently for the past five years, however, these encounters are something that I’ve become more aware of because of my ability to speak the official languages of the countries I have been to recently.
Throughout my time in Paris I have noticed that once I show my American passport in Charles de Gaulle there was a positive response given when I showed my American passport and spoke in French. This I recognized as a part of their pride in their language, but in retrospect it causes me to consider what it would be like for me to not speak the language and have another passport. Would I be treated the same?
This all being said, I do hope that me bringing awareness to this topic will enlighten those of you who travel frequently to become more aware of how to use your language skills and passport status to serve others around you who may not be blessed with the same. Think about it.
Until the next adventure,