Sep 28th, 2017, 12:00 PM

What's in their Passports?

By Sara Moskowitz
Image credit: Flickr/hjl
Five members of the AUP community share their favorite travel stories

With over 100 different nationalities woven into the community, AUP has got the map covered. Here, we'll look at five passports to get a closer look at some of the people that make up AUP's incredibly diverse population. From Asia to South America, and everywhere in between, AUP has got some unique travel stories to offer. Beware, these passports may give you chronic wanderlust. 

Name: Yasmina Diakité
Nationalities: 1, Burkinabé
Number of Passports: 1, Burkina Faso
Languages: French, Dioula, and English

Image credit: Sara Moskowitz

Yasmina Diakité, a second-year student at AUP, is full of life. After attending a French high school in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, she became familiar with what it's like to be apart of an international community. Diakité peeks down as a smile stretches across her face: Singapore—her favorite city. She recalls the perfect day in Singapore where she went to Sentosa Island, right off of Singapore, and spent the day ziplining, "It's really different from the main city."

She continues with an anecdote about the environment of Singapore, "Something that's really funny—there's like a big Indian population over there, but I think they've never been in contact with black people, so they would just stare at us." She says her favorite part of the trip was how they one night went to the Marina Bay Sands, and at the top, there was a bar and an infinity pool. The whole rooftop was shaped like a boat, with a panoramic view of Singapore. She remembers thinking that she had never seen such a beautiful landscape before.

Image credit: Yasmina Diakité

Name: Fabio Vidal
Nationalities: 2, Spanish and Filipino
Number of Passports: 2
Languages: English, Spanish, Mandarin, and some French

Image credit: Sara Moskowitz

Fabio Vidal, a third-year transfer student from Madrid, laughs when asked about his favorite place. Undoubtedly, it was Cambodia, which he traveled to in May with three of his friends. The trip began impressively with him having to bribe a police officer at the Cambodian immigration office. His passport had a ripped page, and they weren't going to let him enter, so he slipped them a twenty. Once in Cambodia, he said his favorite part was singing "I Will Survive" in front of 60-80 people at the hotel. "I lost the video, I would've shown you," he mentions. 

Image credit: Fabio Vidal

Name: Camila Craig
Nationalities: 3, Peruvian, Brazilian, and American
Number of Passports: 3
Languages: Spanish, English, French, and Portuguese

Image credit: Stephanie Alexis Russell

Camila Craig's face lights up while discussing her upcoming travel plans. Her past and future travel records are alluring. As we speak, she's planning to rent a car and travel from town to town all over France until she reaches Chamonix, where she will stop and hike. With three passports, Craig notes, however, that she almost always uses her American one, "you know, people tend to be weird with Latinos."

Craig discusses her book Hablemos del Tiempo, a collection of photography and poetry, which was published this summer in Peru. Although the book is currently only available in Peru, she hopes to bring it to AUP someday. When asked about her favorite stamp, she says "Milan", because it was her first trip alone. In a small village in the Five Lands, called Vernazza, she wrote one of her most beloved poems of the book while overlooking a port. "I just happened to take a picture of the port while I was writing and that's the picture that's in the book with the writing. So that's a cool story."

Image credit: Camila Craig

Name: Stephen Sawyer
Nationalities: 1, American
Number of Passports: 1
Languages: English and French

Image credit: Sara Moskowitz

Professor Stephen Sawyer came to Paris for the first time in 1999 to do research. In 2001, he bought his first one-way ticket to Paris; he was hooked. He fell in love with the city and is now working towards obtaining his French citizenship. 

When asked about opening his American passport and choose his favorite stamp, his visa from China stands out. It took him two and a half months to obtain; he remembers, "the process of getting the visa was extraordinary." He brought with him students from The Sorbonne to Hong Kong and Shanghai to study urban planning. He recounts his trip with astonishment, as Hong Kong had just been retroceded to China, and the country was in a gray area. Upon arrival, he and his students interacted with locals of various opinions on the current state of the country. Most notably a student from Hong Kong told him, "had China gone the route of more democracy and political liberalism, they would've ended up like Russia." This was one of the less radical views people held.

Image credit: Flickr/mokastet

Name: Elise Chauvel
Nationalities: 2, French and American
Number of Passports: 2
Languages: English, French, and German

Image credit: Claire Chauvel

Elise Chauvel, a former ski racer, has traveled all around the world in search for the perfect mountain. Now retired, she speaks of her time as a competitor with gratitude. Her favorite stamp in her passport is from Chile, where she went with her ski team two years ago. She recounts how she would wake up at the crack of dawn, go to the peak of the Andes mountains and watch the sunrise unfold. Also, since Santiago is very polluted, the smog would rise and create an even more incredible view. Chauvel and her teammates took in a view that most people will never be able to experience, "An array of colors that I can't even describe, they're so vibrant and alive."

Image credit: Elise Chauvel

Before skiing down the Andes mountains, accompanying students from The Sorbonne to China, dancing on tables in Cambodia, writing your first book in Italy or ziplining in Singapore, make sure that if you are a non-EU student who didn't enter AUP this semester, that you get in contact with Beatrice from Immigration beforehand.