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W&M to host first Black woman on record to travel to all 195 U.N.-recognized countries of the world

Serengeti, Tanzania. Credit Elton AndersonThe Reves Center for International Studies announces that Jessica Nabongo will deliver the 2023 McSwain-Walker Lecture Tuesday, April 11, 2023, at 5:30pm in Tucker Hall, Room 127A, 350 James Blair Drive. Her talk, "Intentional Travel: How Education, Empathy and Confidence will Help You Create the Life You Want to Live," is free and open to the public. 

Jessica Nabongo is a writer, photographer, entrepreneur, travel expert, influencer and public speaker.Jessica Nabongo. Credit Justin Millhouse She completed her journey as the first Black woman on record to travel to all 195 U.N.-recognized countries of the world in October of 2019. At her core, she is a dreamer looking to craft a life and career that connects her passions and talents. She wants to use her story to educate and inspire others to travel and experience the world around them. 

A first generation American, Nabongo was born and raised in Detroit by Ugandan parents. She attended St. John’s University in New York where she earned a degree in English Literature, later completing a graduate degree in Development Studies at the London School of Economics. She uses her blog, The Catch Me If You Can, to share her travel adventures and build a global community. She is also the founder of the lifestyle brand The Catch. 

In the inspiring travelogue, The Catch Me If You Can: One Woman’s Journey to Every Country in the World (National Geographic), Nabongo describes her journey around the world, highlighting 100 countries with fascinating stories of adventure, culture, travel musts, and human connections. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Credit Jessica Nabongo

“My goal is to expand people's understanding of the globe and make it more accessible to everyone,” explains Nabongo. “This book is a collection of countries that make my heart smile. I hope my stories make you laugh, cry, and ultimately think differently about the world in which we live.” 

Jessica is committed to increasing cultural awareness and encourages people to think positively about other countries and the world at large, so that we do not miss out on opportunities to have amazing experiences with our neighbors.  

“I hope what other Black people see from my story is that you should feel comfortable traveling anywhere you want to go. My journey is about showing everyone, not just Black women and men, that your dreams are achievable.” 

The annual McSwain-Walker lecture brings renowned scholars, artists, analysts and other notable public figures to William & Mary to speak on topics related to how other countries and cultures interact with the United States, and how the United States interacts with them. 

To learn more about Jessica Nabongo, visit  her website.

The Reves Center for International Studies is the home of the office of the Associate Provost for International Affairs, the Global Education Office, and the Office of International Students, Scholars, and Programs at William & Mary. Established in 1989 with a gift from Wendy Reves in memory of her husband Emery, author of The Anatomy of Peace, the Reves Center supports and promotes the internationalization of learning, teaching, research and community involvement at the university.