Donor Spotlight: Selena and Kamau from The City & Beyond

Donor Spotlight: Selena and Kamau from The City & Beyond

FLYTE is more than a non-profit organization. It is a community built by supporters and donors who want to empower students to change their lives – and the world – through travel.

Traveling full-time is a dream, but it’s not everyone’s dream. Today we’re celebrating Selena and Kamau from The City & Beyond. They’ve built a YouTube channel teaching other 9-5 workers about the kind of travel they love and what works for them – part-time traveling and how to maximize time away. 

We appreciate them sharing their story and are grateful to them for their generous donation in the form of travel miles that helped us reach our 250k goal last December!

Tell us about yourselves.

Selena – Of course I love to travel but my day job is in animal welfare. I work for a non-profit organization where I really get to put my talents towards helping pet owners who reside in underserved zip codes in Miami, Los Angeles and New York City. I LOVE the work my department does and we really make a huge difference in keeping pets and people together.
Kamau – I’m unapologetically from New Jersey and my hobbies include puzzles, tinkering, cooking and music. I work in fire safety, more specifically I manage purchasing and it’s always satisfying to hear when one of our jobs helped save some lives.

How has travel impacted your life? 

Selena – The impact that travel has made on my life is ridiculous. My tolerance for struggle is partially because of travel. What I mean by that is if you’ve ever complained about a not so clean bathroom before, traveling for a few years to certain cities around the world will have you be very grateful for a bathroom at all. Another impact was gaining gratitude from travel. I saw that my “not enough” was more than enough for others, and those people are able to be happy with less, so I could too.
Kamau – I’m unapologetically from New Jersey and my hobbies include puzzles, tinkering, cooking and music. I work in fire safety, more specifically I manage purchasing and it’s always satisfying to hear when one of our jobs helped save some lives.

What’s your favorite travel memory? 

Selena – My favorite memory is probably one of my deepest. When Kamau and I went to Kathmandu, we did this very long walk from Nagarkot to Bhaktapur. I was pretty confident that I would be able to walk this walk but as we got midway, I was having a really hard time. At one point, I started thinking about how my body was really betraying me. I actually got really mad at myself but it was a big lesson to not rush and to go at my own pace cause in the end, I made it to the end and lived to tell the tale.
Kamau – My favorite travel memory is our first time in Italy. After months of practicing on apps I had yet to speak with a person in Italian. Well, our first morning we went to a local cafe, where the owner only spoke Italian or Mandarin, and told us we needed to pick one or the other. This single moment cemented everything I had learned in Italian and for the duration of the trip where applicable I conversed, ordered food, and sometimes joked in Italian. I don’t think any of that, and by proxy, many of our Italy memories wouldn’t have happened if this lovely shop owner did not force me to speak in Italian.

Tell us more about The City & Beyond. What’s your channel all about? 

The City & Beyond is a YouTube channel to help support and inspire what we call part-time travelers. We both work and over the years many colleagues, friends, family, and strangers have asked how the heck we travel. Finally we thought we should have a place where part-time travelers don’t feel lame for not being full-time like the other folks they see on YouTube.
It’s okay to KEEP YOUR JOB. Some people truly feel like they miss out and some do because they are not strategically planning their vacation days and holidays to maximize their time away. So insert us and our friends and family who travel with us. We show you our travels and how you can travel too. We also wanted to highlight how accessible the world is even on a budget.

Why did you choose to support FLYTE? 

Selena – I grew up in New York City in Norwood, BX and Crown Heights, BK in the 80’s and 90’s. I know what it’s like to be from an underserved community and I know my experience wasn’t the worst it could get. I had a close friend when I was a teenager who had to stay in a shelter with her other young siblings and her single mother at some point. We all had our stories.
The reason I went to study abroad was because my mother was insistent that I get this opportunity she never got, but what happens if a child doesn’t have that push? And that’s why the mission of FLYTE is truly close to my heart. When we created the City & Beyond, we had those children at the front of our minds. Who do you think most part-time travelers are? I’d say they are the parents of those children who need the push and inspiration that they can travel someday too.
Kamau – I grew up in Paterson, NJ. Everyone was from somewhere (even when they weren’t), and they either visited family from that country, or they went to Florida. It was rare anyone went anywhere else, my family included. While knowing one’s roots is important to keep culture alive, experiencing the world can give you a greater understanding of yours.
Finding similar foods, sayings, and traditions deepen your understanding and in a way level you up as a person. I’m lucky to have experienced this at this point in my life, I can only imagine who I’d be if I had these experiences earlier in life. With that notion it is our privilege to pay it forward so kids from places like where we grew up can aspire for more, and inspire others.

What advice would you give someone who’s hesitant about the idea of traveling abroad?

Selena – If you’re hesitant because it makes you get that tingle of discomfort, make yourself do it. Ask a friend to do it with you. That’s what happened when I studied abroad, a few girls I knew went at the same time. If you don’t have a friend, make new ones. Group tours seem to be a very popular way to make travel friends.
Another suggestion would be to start very small. I maybe wouldn’t suggest making your trip from the US to Nepal your first abroad trip if you’re hesitant. Try the Caribbean or Canada. It’s also easier to persuade friends to join you or go alone.
Kamau – Take a cruise, do an abroad program with your College/University, have a family outing, or group friends trip. The first two choices are good soft options where you have a bit of a safety net. The cruise ship is home base and traveling with your school requires some sort of supervision but also a structured trip, so that you can see large swaths of the culture. The latter options are because there are strengths and numbers and you can all be confused and nervous together.