Hi! We are Sofi and Rosebell, founders of Expedition Subsahara, a social connection that began as a tiny seed — a dream — and that we’re working to grow into something beautiful.
Originally from Senegal, West Africa, I (Sofi) came to the United States because my mom wanted me to have a bright future. She thought the best chance for me to thrive was for me to get a quality education. While there are schools in Senegal, there are a lot of gaps in education and it’s not always a priority for young girls to attend or finish school. The average household in Senegal makes $100 a month and for a lot of families, there’s simply no extra money to send their children to school.
When I first came to America, I realized that Africans have a misconception of what America is like: think big houses, fancy cars and lots of cash. I basically thought America was Hollywood. And now that I’ve lived here half of my life, I know that Americans also have a misconception of what Africa is like. Though Africa is a continent of diverse countries, sometimes they get lumped in the same stereotype. People have asked if I lived in a hut, had a lion as a pet, or if there are streets where I grew up (no, no, although that would be cool, and yes). I’m privileged to understand these cultural misunderstandings. Neither Americans perceptions of Africa nor Africans perception of America are truths, but there are hints of truth in each. There are advantages to America, just as there are advantages to living in Africa. My mom knew my educational advantage would be here. An American degree means something to the rest of the world.
I understand now that if you take a single stereotype and make it THE story for an entire people, you’re doing a disservice to the world. It creates conflict when instead of investing in understanding one another’s stories, we focus only on the story we know. It makes it hard to empathize with other cultures and people. Every culture is made out of a million stories. Each country’s story is complex.
It is our goal to create a space where we can connect African and American cultures in a way that’s respectful to both. We want to expand dialog to increase understanding and empathy. Connecting cultures starts with being introduced to them. Our products are made in Africa by African artisans. No matter where you display or wear them, you’re helping start a conversation and hopefully, create a more empathetic and understanding world.
...And if all of that’s not enough, we plan on using the proceeds to build a school back home, in Senegal. The school will benefit women like those who make our products, so that they have viable, technological knowledge to use in the modern workforce. We created Expedition Subsahara as a bridge that extends to everyone so that maybe someday our similarities matter more than our differences. And on that day, hopefully, girls education will be on an equal platform across the globe.