Based out of Miami, journalist Kimberly Brooks is co-anchor of "Nightline on Fusion." The TV personality -- who got her start working at Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Studios -- is also the host of Fusion's latest documentary, "O Girls," which checks in on the progress of five of the young women who were amongst the first to graduate from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.
Q. What have you learned about Winfrey's work in South Africa?
A. You cannot physically be in her space and not learn something at every moment. When I was granted the opportunity to travel to South Africa (when I was working at Harpo), I reconnected with Oprah on the ground at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in Henley on Klip (South Africa). What I am most grateful for is being able to personally watch someone who is unapologetically herself in every single moment -- vulnerable, authentic and honest. And perhaps most admirable is her constant quest to not only teach, but learn. Imagine, a woman at the top of her game who is still open to learning from all of the people around her. Incredible.
Q. Have you traveled to a place that stood out so much that you felt compelled to incorporate it into your work?
A. Thankfully, I didn't have to find a way to incorporate South Africa into my work because it happens to be one of the main locations in my documentary. South Africa is a country with unimaginable natural beauty, vibrant culture, music and roots of absolutely beautiful people -- all under the thin veil of Apartheid's past. The contradictions astound me. And now, with so many wonderful friends there, it's a place that strangely -- but maybe not so strangely -- feels like home.
Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?
A. Everywhere I haven't been. The more I travel, the more I want to travel. I think it's one of the few healthy addictions to have. The thought that there are people on this Earth living their lives in a particular manner -- most likely completely different from mine -- will forever fascinate me. I love international travel, but I also want to tap into some of the amazing places right here in North America. I've never been to Vancouver, or Jackson Hole or Savannah.
Q. What has been the most notable place you have traveled to for your work?
A. Easter Island is one of those places that was tucked away in the far reaches of my mind. I had seen images of the great Moai sculptures and knew enough to shake my head when someone mentioned it in conversation. But never in a million years did I think I would actually travel there for a story, or at all, for that matter. For one, flying to the center of the world is not your average itinerary. And two, it's far. I flew from Miami and it was still an eight-hour flight to Santiago, Chile, and then another five-hour flight to the island. But it was nothing short of amazing. For another job a few years back, I ended up flying in a helicopter to do yoga on top of a mountain for a story in Banff in Alberta, Canada. Seriously, Google this place.
Q. How can travelers be mindful of the cultures they are visiting?
A. There is nothing like the internet. Now, it's hard to go somewhere and have NO idea what you will experience. I'm always curious and excited before a trip, so I read a lot or talk to people who live there or have been there before. Then, I take this information and pair it with an open mind and open heart, and I'm ready.
Q. What untapped destination should people know about?
A. I wouldn't say it's untapped, but Kashmir -- a disputed territory between India and Pakistan -- is one of the most beautiful places I have seen. One of my best friends from grad school is from the region and a few months back I flew there for her wedding. Because of my work schedule, I had to make the trip short. But even in its current conflict and highly militarized borders, it is absolutely stunning -- a shikara ride on Dal Lake with the Himalayas as a backdrop while listening to the beautiful echo of the Muslim call to prayer is an experience seared in my memory.
Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A. Living in Miami puts me pretty close to some great locations. This past year, I had a few amazing weekend trips to Costa Rica, Mexico City and Bahamas -- with all flights under three or four hours. I think sometimes the thought is that you have to spend a week or more in a place to really enjoy it. And, of course, a week or more is ideal. But when you need a quick recharge, a different, beautiful environment takes the cake.
Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A. I have to take a small bottle of rosewater spray -- a nice refresher after a long flight or anytime really; earbuds for good music; my Klean Kanteen thermos for hot tea or water; probiotics so my stomach holds up and a journal.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)
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