Getaway! An Incomplete Travel Guide Through the Diaspora

Getaway! An Incomplete Travel Guide Through the Diaspora

by Sid Gopinath & Sophia Tareen


Looking for an adventure that blends curiosity with conviction, belief with bewilderment, and discovery with doubt? Travelers will find all of the above in this syllabus which serves as an incomplete travel guide to engage with and question the concept of diaspora.

We know what you’re thinking — “diaspora” has become a bit of an inflated term, relegated to identity-based parlance that has permeated society. Any attempt to define the diaspora experience would be futile; the experience is as scattered as the word’s meaning. A diaspora could include those who have chosen to leave their homeland for societal advancement, those who have been ripped away from their homes without consent, and those who seek refuge from crumbling realities.

This travel guide seeks to recognize the complexities and diversity of the diasporic experience, and thus, it is a journey without a destination. We have organized it into a non-linear route with five stops. At each stop, intrepid travelers can engage with resources, process guiding questions, and indulge in a sensory experience, all related to that stop’s theme.

We are your guides and fellow travelers on this journey: a Minnesota-bred, South Indian and Parsi by way of Bombay and a Philadelphia-gal with Pashtun, Uttar Pradesh, Kashmiri, Punjabi, Uzbek, (and probably more) roots. We are always learning and unlearning how we engage with our specific heritage, so this guide uses our experience as a case study. The stops are specific enough for fellow South Asians to engage with deeply and universal enough for anyone to ponder their own relationship to belonging and collective liberation. 

By no means do we have all the answers. In fact, as travelers ourselves, we only have more questions on this sinuous, convoluted journey. We look forward to reshaping our understanding of what the diaspora means together with you. So, please, join us on this getaway!

Bank of Authenticity

Travelers can exchange currency to prepare for their journey but only after interrogating the nature of the currency itself.


A logo picturing a bank with green columns and a dollar sign in the middle.

Guiding Questions

  • What does it look like to belong to an identity?
  • Who, if anyone, “adjudicates authenticity”?
  • What about me feels “authentic?” Why?
  • Who can or should profit from “authenticity?” Do I?

Sensory Experience

  • Cook a dish of “assimilation” food. Serve it to someone you love with an explanation of it.

Aunty’s House

Take a load off at your local Aunty’s house. This warm and welcoming abode offers not only comfort and chai but also space for your questions and ideas on who defines the diasporic individual.


A logo picturing two glasses of chai, with anise stars and other spices.

Guiding Questions

  • Close your eyes and imagine a member of the _______ diaspora. Pull characteristics from the world around you or from narratives you’ve encountered. Who is this person? What are they doing? Where are they? What do they like?
  • What informs this image?
  • Do you see yourself in these depictions? Why or why not?

Sensory Experience

  • Give yourself a tour of “home.” Make a video or write about the images, the sounds, and the smells. 

Museum of Hidden Histories

This museum is under construction — a constantly evolving space that uncovers quieted stories, family secrets, and historical myths with which our diaspora contends. This is a museum of self-examination as much as one of hidden history.


A round logo picturing a museum gallery, with a rope sectioning off some paintings.

Guiding Questions

  • When does your notion of the _______ diaspora begin? Who is there?
  • Whose histories have been excluded from mainstream stories about the ____ diaspora? Why?
  • What was a “myth” you were told when you were younger? 

Sensory Experiences

Internet Spiral Amusement Park 

Sever the distance between the “homeland” and the diaspora in seconds by jumping into a riveting rabbit hole of some of our favorite diasporic videos, music, artwork, and readings.


A logo picturing a ferris wheel, with blue compartments.

Guiding Questions

  • What is diaspora art? 
  • What do I like or dislike about these pieces? Why?
  • What do I feel when I consume this kind of art?

Sensory Experience

  • Using lyrics, quotes, and excerpts from the links in this section, create a Found Poem.

Park of South Asian Futurism

In this park, travelers are asked to consider our collective future — one of self-examination and multi-racial solidarity. 


A logo picturing a futuristic, city skyline with tall geometric buildings and domes.

Guiding Questions

  • What practices might I introduce or change in my daily life to shift structures of power?
  • What do I expect to feel through my efforts of building solidarity with others?

Sensory Experience

  • Find a local action to support racial justice.