From the Dominican Republic to Senegal to Israel: How a Girl Like Me Got to Travel

By Jocari Peralta

       "Yes it’s true, even 'hood rats' like me get to travel. And if you don’t know what I mean when I say 'hood rat', allow me to explain…

       I never thought that someone like me, someone who was born in Camden, NJ, one of America’s poorest cities with crime rates that are off the charts, would have a chance at travel.

Camden, NJ

       Since I was a child, I was told that travel was expensive. I was told by my parents, I was told by my teachers, heck I was even told by my friends. They weren’t wrong though, travel can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be.

       Nowadays when I think back, I realize that I can’t really blame them, all the people who thought I was nuts for believing that I would travel despite my family’s low income. I used to charge down the school hallway shouting, “Some day… Just wait, you’ll see I’m gonna travel…” The kids would look at me like I’d lost my mind, and the teachers were just grinding their teeth in frustration that I had just said gonna instead of “going to.” Those were the days…

       And yet despite my overconfident attitude, I still did not fully believe that I could travel.

       It always came down to money. Money. The root of all evil… I realize that we need it to pay for flights and lodging, as well as the food we’re going to stuff our faces in while we’re abroad, but in all honesty I think we’ve all been duped when it comes to the realities of traveling.

       The truth is anyone and everyone can travel, no matter what your financial situation looks like. And if you’re a student, well, even better..."

The Dome of the Rock or Qubbat al-Sakhrah

The Dome of the Rock or Qubbat al-Sakhrah in Arabic or Kippat ha-Sela in Hebrew, in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel

 

       "I travelled to Israel through Passages; a ten day program for Christian college students looking to grow their faith, explore Israeli culture, and learn about the current conflict between Israel and Palestine. I applied to Passages after a Global Citizen Year alum, who I met when I was apart of the program, told me it was only $500 USD!"

 

 

jocari peralta travel blog

 

"So I was basically in one student travel program finding out about another…

Life is funny.

       But seriously, if it weren’t for Passages and Global Citizen Year, I probably wouldn’t be who I am today.

Because of Global Citizen Year, I travelled to Senegal, in West Africa for eight months! After being introduced to the program through a Facebook ad during my senior year of highschool, I knew it was meant to be. At the time I was fed up with traditional schooling, and I knew I wanted to travel, I just never imagined that it would begin with a gap year…"

 

 Israeli Sunset

          Israeli Sunset from the Top of a Roof

 

travel blogger Jocari Peralta

  Me Acting a Fool in Senegal

 

"And then there’s the Dominican Republic, where it all started for me…"

travel stories

My little cousin Marly and her friend Jamie

 

       "I will always mention the Dominican Republic any chance that I get because it’s where my family is from, and it’s where my heart lives. The D.R. is where I first encountered wanderlust and her seductive ways. Before going there, I always thought that I understood Dominican culture. I figured that since we ate arroz con habichuelas, danced merengue and drank milk with orange juice, (don’t knock it till you try it) that I was an expert on Dominican way of life and thinking. Boy was I wrong.

       It was in la Republica Dominicana that I learned a life lesson that continues to drive me today. And that lesson is this, to really understand a culture and its people, their ideals and values, you must immerse in their world, and humble yourself while you’re at it.

       Then and only then, are you traveling responsibly."

 

Reference Links:

For more information on Global Citizen Year see: https://www.globalcitizenyear.org/

For more information on Passages Israel see: https://passagesisrael.org/

About the author, Jocari Peralta:

       "Hola, hello and salaam alaikum nanga deff, I speak three languages: English, Spanish and Wolof. I was born in Camden, NJ, USA, but my family is originally from San Jose de Las Matas, Republica Dominicana. I’m twenty years old, and currently in college. My current major is Public Relations and Digital Marketing, and I studied fashion design for four years at a vocational high school.   

       I am extremely passionate about storytelling and travelling. I am a blogger. At the moment, I mainly post on my youtube channel, on instagram, and for travel blogs. I’ve always loved to write, there’s just something about the freedom to express yourself that lures me in... Some hobbies of mine include photography, videography and fashion.

       I strive to empower others, including the youth, to share their stories, whether that be through social media, youtube or with friends and family… We all have a story and I believe it should be shared. I am still in the process of launching an official blog, however you can keep up with me on all my social media platforms which I will list down below…"

Instagram: @JocariPeralta

Instagram Fashion Blog: @UrbnRita

Youtube Channel: JocariPeralta

    

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