Melissa Roy First South Asian To Spin Around The Globe At 34
Melissa Roy First South Asian To Spin Around The Globe At 34. Kabul, Afghanistan 11/28/19 — Melissa Sumitra Roy, 34, is about to become the first woman of South Asian origin to visit every sovereign nation in the world when she visits her 193rd and final country, Bangladesh, on December 26, 2019. Currently, at 188, she chose Bangladesh as her final country to honor the birthplace of her late father, Subhash Chandra Roy, as well as all four of her grandparents. Seeing it as a symbolic homecoming, she would like to come full circle and end her journey where her family started… her ancestral homeland.
Born with an insatiable curiosity to explore faraway lands and cultures, Melissa had her first taste of solo travel at age 19. She studied abroad for a year in Buenos Aires, Argentina, during her sophomore year at Pepperdine University. She then set sail on Semester at Sea the following year, circumnavigating the entire globe in 100 days. In just one semester she saw things that most people aren’t able to see in a lifetime! She thought she would be able to slow down and start a normal career, but she wasn’t ready to settle down just yet. The call of unfamiliar lands kept her traveling each year for up to eight months at a time!
By the time she was 29 years old, Melissa had been to 66 countries and wanted to step up her travel game. She decided to challenge herself and set a goal of visiting 100 countries and all seven continents before her 30th birthday. She ended up celebrating the big 3-0 in Antarctica with one of her favorite animals, the gentoo penguins. It was also her seventh continent. After that, she decided to keep ongoing, with the goal of visiting all the sovereign UN countries.
Melissa is unusual in that she has no sponsorships or endorsements—she pays for her travels out of her own pocket. Her favorite way to travel is by Couchsurfing, a way to immerse yourself in the local culture rather than insulating yourself from it.
Melissa’s goals go beyond visiting every country in the world. She wants to create meaningful connections with humans from every walk of life, shatter misconceptions, and bring back faith in humanity. “From space, there are no lines on the map, just one planet and one race. The majority of humans are inherently good, so don’t let fear prevent you from going out there and forming your own opinions. No matter how far you travel, you’ll realize that people everywhere are the same.” Travel, in the words of Mark Twain, is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
Raised by an immigrant single mother in a low-income family, Melissa faced the struggles that come with being a minority growing up in a small town in Indiana. She hopes to educate and inspire young women of all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds that they too can explore the world on their own, taking risks, pushing boundaries, and discovering along the way the incredible lessons of other cultures, which connect them back to who they are.
Traveling on a shoestring budget, Melissa wants to show the world that it doesn’t matter where you come from or how much money you have.
“All you need is an open heart and a desire to connect with others, to understand them. A little bit of empathy goes a long way.”