Happy New Year!

Greetings from New Delhi, India!

It’s been a while… last you heard from me, I was still in Durban, South Africa. You might want to know, why is Kava in India? This country wasn’t on her original itinerary!

Highlights from South Africa

Before I get to why I am in India, I want to first share with you some highlights from my last two weeks in South Africa:

  • Spent two weeks in Johannesburg, one of the most artistic and cosmopolitan cities in the African continent
  • Connected with, interviewed, and skated with Kelly Murray at Skateistan‘s new skate school
  • Spent some time skating at Old Drill Hall Skate Park (known by locals as “One Love” or “Drill Hall”)
  • Reunited with my friends from Mozambique who’d come to South Africa to do set design for Afropunk Festival
  • I took a city skate tour and learned tons about Johannesburg’s geography and history through skateboarding
  • Learned that many skate spots around Johannesburg are also significant sites of the anti-apartheid struggle
  • Made friends with Tsige Tafesse, Vanessa Newman, and Imani Denise, all of whom are based in NYC and are connected to many of my friends and communities back in NYC. Imani, Vanessa, and Tsige were in South Africa as part of their journey around the world to document afros (black people) in punk. Together, we spent a day hanging out with local punk band TCIYF (which, if your curious, stands for “The Cum In Your Face”) riding around Soweto in the back of a pick up truck, stopping intermittently at skate street spots, drink some beers, and record interviews. This magical day is one of the highlights of my Watson year! TCIYF is also connected with Skate Society Soweto (SSS), a local skateboarding collective that was in the process of building a DIY skate park outside of Others Concept Store/Space in Soweto. Speaking with SSS / TCIYF reminded me just how connected skateboarding and punk are and also exposed me to a perspective about apartheid I hadn’t yet heard: “We don’t give a fuck about apartheid. We want to move on and live in a way that doesn’t continue giving power to colonial mindset.” Word
  • Shared meals and mornings with JoJo Abbot, an awesome musician from Ghana/Brooklyn, who just so happened to be my neighbour in Maboneng
  • Learned how to downhill skate and power slide with a longboard thanks to an invitation from Alcador (known as “President”) of One Love
  • Challenged my own assumptions about race, community, and age
  • Reunited and broke up with my significant other when I realized how much I had changed in six months and how unhealthy and limiting our relationship was for me and my personal growth
  • Realised and lived uncomfortable truths about the economic realities of different currencies

Reflections on 2017

In all, 2017 was a year of ego, awakening, (un)becoming. In 2017, I graduated from university, won a Davis Peace Prize grant, started Mozambique’s first girls skateboarding program, became a Thomas J. Watson Fellow, joined Kiskeya Libre, travelled to 11 new countries, and made some of my lifelong dreams come true. Something I entered 2017 with that I must part with is my mantra: “bloom where you are planted.” For years, I lived by the idea that I should make the most of the situation I’m in, that no matter what cards I was dealt, I would play the game. This year, I realized that I don’t have to play the game if I don’t want to; I can walk away, renounce my cards, and choose my own destiny. In Spain, I realized that my commitment to blooming where I was planted obscured the fact that I was under no obligation to plant myself there, that perhaps I was inhibiting my own growth by trying to bloom all year. I even invested in an apartment for three months so that I could feel rooted. It was all part of a plan that failed miserably. The reason why is because I was too attached to the story I was telling about myself. Performing my freedom rather than actually living it. Instead of trusting my intuition, I got caught up trying to grow in the wrong garden. In doing so, I denied myself the magic and evolution that comes out of being honest and humble with myself and others.

Indian adventures await!

Waking up in New Delhi today feels like such a paradigm shift! I feel energized and full of potential and excitement for what’s to come. This trip to India marks the halfway point of my journey around the world to study women’s skateboarding movements, a project that has expanded my world and enriched my life in innumerable ways. This is the furthest away from home I have ever been but I am alive and present and grateful to be here, now.

My current (and only) plan for the next few weeks is to participate in Girl Skate India’s second ever Girls Skate Tour! We’ll be travelling to Janwaar Castle in Madhya Pradesh, The Cave Skatepark and Play Arena in Bangalore, and building a skatepark in Mahabalipuram! I’m so stoked for all of the amazing people and places I will meet these next few weeks.

Thank you to all of you who have followed my journey! I am because we are!

Happy new year! 

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