"Ignorance and freedom cannot coexist." The worst prison to live in is one that cannot be seen, smelled, or touched. When we allow ourselves to remain ignorant of who we are, we allow ourselves to become vulnerable to the vision others have for us. It should be every person's priority to "know thyself". In 2010, I traveled to Tanzania, Africa to study Swahili. One of the excursions planned for us was to go to Stone Town in Zanzibar where one of the last standing slave fortresses stands. As I went through the tour I felt something happening inside me that, to this very day, I have difficulty putting into words. It was in one of the slave chambers we entered that I was hit with a tidal wave of emotions. I'm not a man who displays emotions frequently, but what I felt brought me to my knees. It was a moment of enlightenment and my life has never been the same since. Marcus Garvey stated, "A tree cut off from its roots is dead." It was the physical reconnection with my cultural heritage, via our journey to Africa, that provided the stage for spiritual enlightenment. It was in that moment I could see my connection not only to the continent of Africa, but to all human beings. I returned to America with a rejuvenated and renewed sense of purpose. I wanted to create that same experience for others, targeting ethnic minorities initially since our histories are not generally represented in America's history books. The goal is to set up a 6 week history focused educational program. The program will allow participants to, not only learn about their culture and history, but also afford them the opportunity to be fully immersed in their culture by traveling to a historically significant part of the world. Participants that already have a solid foundation on their ancestral heritages are also encouraged to explore programs outside of their heritages to learn of other people's cultures. We believe this will create the bridge of understanding that is needed to truly accept and respect all people's, regardless of ethnicity and cultural heritage. Distant Beginnings Inc. exists to promote equality and unity across the globe by increasing cultural awareness through exploration of cultural heritage, humanitarianism, and spirituality. We do this by first introducing the individual to themselves. With philosophies rooted in love, our purpose is to provide an atmosphere of understanding and acceptance that will enrich the lives of those who are in relationship with our organization. We respect and appreciate the uniqueness of people, without regard to their various backgrounds. It is our belief that respect for diversity will only make our country richer. With this in mind, we seek to be a meeting place where all ethnicities that exists within the boundaries of our country can learn from and about one another through understanding each others' cultures. Our vision is to create a well-informed society educated on all cultures existing within our country’s borders that makes informed decisions with a genuine concern for the well-being of all members of society and stands firmly against sources of misinformation rooted in ethnocentrism and indifference. We will meet this vision by developing leaders who will return to their communities with a rejuvenated hope in equality founded on education which encourages understanding of other peoples and cultures regardless of the individual’s personal belief. These individuals will strive to be pillars in their communities encouraging others to embrace a love-based inclusiveness recognizing the dignity and worth of all human beings and are actively involved in supporting community efforts to that end. We believe that this will create a culture of engaged self-efficacious citizenry with a rejuvenated belief in equality with the knowledge that freedom is not only a physical state of being, but a mental and spiritual state as well.