Ernest White II grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, dreaming of a job that would propel him to the world. He teaches English in Colombia, Brazil and Miami, and works as a freelance journalist in Berlin, South Africa, and the Dominican Republic. Now he added “travel TV host” to his resume. “Fly Brother With Ernest White II” is an entertaining and educational journey around the world, taking viewers to places that are familiar to us. The program starts airing this month at various PBS stations and is scheduled to start airing nationally, including the Philadelphia viewing area, on Create TV later this summer.
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In a recent interview, White, 42, revealed how his background and views on the world had informed his travel style and philosophy. The response has been edited and summarized for clarity. Q: Your event starts during a pandemic. How does it feel to have a captive audience, but who can’t really travel? A: Humans need other humans. They, we, must travel with each other. That’s the mission behind “Flying Brothers” – human connections – no matter when or how people are connected to each other. People still need to know that connection is possible, very important, and that is why this is the right time for this series of trips to debut. Q: Many are critical of the impact of travel on destinations and the environment. Do you think we will learn lessons about how to travel after a pandemic? A: We learn a lot about ourselves, about the Earth today. There has been a movement to make sustainable travel just “travel,” but now that we see cleaner air and water and the unwavering spirit of the planet begin to rise again, we must definitely consider how we engage with our homes going forward. I do believe in travel, but I believe in deeper connections and intimate experiences that require slower and more deliberate movements. Now is the time for destinations, governments, businesses, communities to get ahead of the tidal wave of mass tourism and build a framework for sustainable travel, and it is our job in the media to raise awareness about traveling sustainably. Did you grow up watching travel TV shows? If so, what is your favorite? A: I don’t have to grow up watching travel shows, but I do enjoy watching “Where in the World of Carmen Sandiego?” and National Geographic specials and other shows about different places and cultures. I remember watching Pedro Almodóvar’s film “Woman on the Verge of Nervous Damage” as a child and being swept up in a language and world very different from mine. I also like going to Epcot as a child because of the various “countries” that you can visit. I have always been a geographer nerd. Q: What makes “Fly Brother” different from other travel events? A: The main focus of the show is on friendship, connections and the global community. All travel events include that, but often through the lens of food or walking or dancing. I think this is a unique perspective and a good complement to other shows. Q: “Fly Brother” mostly skips popular destinations for places like Addis Ababa and Tajikistan. Did this tell us something about your travel philosophy? A: My philosophy truly includes the responsibility to provide a foundation for places and people who want to be seen and heard. People want to share their culture, scenery, things they like about their place of residence, and often, many of these beautiful places are ignored. I am a native of Florida – I understand tourist fatigue and excessive development – but I also know that, once again, humans are developing in connections and most people enjoy hosting guests. In Tajikistan and Central Asia, for example, hospitality is an ancient cultural trait, but they have been on the outskirts of the Russian, then Soviet, empires for centuries. Why not engage with people in those places, on an ongoing basis, of course? And we will go to Paris and Tokyo too. Q: You have one season of eight episodes in the can. Are there places that you still need to visit? A: I want us to film episodes in Mongolia, in Ghana, in Dublin, in Shetland, in Mexico City, in Natchez, in Haiti, in Singapore, in Tasmania, in West Hollywood. I want us to record everyone, everywhere.
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