Hello, my name is Manuel James Delgado. Originally from SoCal in the USA, now causing ruckus on these small islands in the middle of the north Atlantic, the Faroe Islands.
How did I end up here, you might ask? By traveling light and making every moment a simple adventure. It all started in Long Beach, California, where I was born. Did you know that there are over 140 languages spoken in the Los Angeles county? I really thought the world revolved around us. I mean, it seemed like everything the world had to offer was all packaged up here in our neck of the woods. In the city I was born in we had an area for almost every ethnicity.
But hold up. I was not always exposed to such a diverse atmosphere.
I did not see a person of African descent until I was around 10-11 years young. And there weren’t that many Caucasians around as well. When I was 14 going on 15, we moved to a whole new area of California. It was there that I met all kinds of cool people with different ethnic backgrounds.
My group of friends were Pilipino, then African Americans, then my fellow Latin brothers and sisters.
I was forced to take my simple adventure on my own at the age of 18, I fell into a group of grungy white stoners and fell in love with the beach life and tried to grow roots there in the good old O.C.
But I was not traveling light during this time. From the age of 16 and on I carried a life of drug addiction wherever I turned. I think what helped me survive in this lifestyle was my love for diversity and unity. Even at the lowest point of my life, people loved to be around me, because I was good at creating an atmosphere where diversity was celebrated, and unity was a core value.
I remember helping to bring peace to two rival gangs, one was a Samoan tribe and the other a Mexican gang. My Ghetto apartment, grand central for major drug deals, was a place of peace for these people.
Realizing that this addictive lifestyle was going to kill me I reached out for help. My parents helped me find a place to overcome my addictions and this place was so AMAZING!
With the tools they gave me, I was able to get renewed and rebuild a new life with value and purpose.
During this time, I realized I wanted to use my past and life to help others come out of any kind of lifestyle that made them feel worthless. But for some reason I felt my journey would not be local. So, whenever someone from another country would come to our facility to train us, I would wonder if I should go there.
Nothing really stuck until a family from Denmark came. Something about them, the friendship we developed, and the invite to come and visit them, gave me a certainty that Denmark was my next destination.
This was how American I portrayed, I thought Denmark would have mountains! After getting picked up from the airport and driving for a few hours, I realized how flat this land really was. You could watch your dog run away for like two weeks, it was so flat!
But I instantly jumped into using my life and past experiences to help young people out of their troubled lives. It was a great time.
It wasn’t till after three years, that I realized I should probably learn the language. Not knowing the language and having the innocent racial remarks towards me, began to develop an unknowing insecurity in my life. I felt I needed to change who I was to feel like I belonged.
I felt I needed to be more like the culture I was in. It wasn’t until I moved to the capital, Copenhagen, that I realized I was looking at it all wrong. I remember walking down a shopping street.
I saw a sign in one of the windows. It said, ‘Foreigners, don’t leave us with the Danes’!
It was then I knew that who I was, where I came from, what I experienced, was exactly what people in my small adventure needed to meet and experience.
So, I stopped trying to compare myself to others and stopped trying to be exactly like the culture I lived in. It was only then, for me, that I was able to learn the language and enjoy the culture. I became more accessible to the needs around me.
I began to love the Danish culture to the point that I wanted them to be even better than they already were.
By this time in my life, I was married to a beautiful Faroese girl. We had a couple of kids. And we were deep into helping our society in different avenues and collaborations.
In 2015, we decided to move to the Faroe Islands and continue the same type of work. Our family life has not been a bed of rose peddles. But we have really enjoyed our small adventure here, traveling light, coming as we are, knowing who we are.
What does travel light mean? It means, comes as you are.
You don’t need to add anything to your life that will not compliment who you already are. But what is an adventure if we can experience together, learn together, and grow together.
Wherever you are in life, absorb your surroundings, respect it and them. They are just as scared to be exposed to unfamiliar situations as you are.
So, jump into the next situation with the intent to celebrate and unify.