Twenty-three year-old Yanise Ho is traveling across the United States.
The catch? She’s doing it all on inline skates by herself, without any money, food, or water, relying solely on the kindness of people she meets along the way. By placing her life in the hands of strangers, she wants to prove that there is love and kindness in the world.
“All one needs is 100 percent faith in the goodness of people. There’s a lot more good than bad in this world. I wish to resurrect the lost art of trust, love, and care for one another.”
Ho, who originally hails from Hong Kong, has her family to thank for instilling in her and supporting her adventurous spirit. She has been interested in traveling since she vacationed in New Zealand at age 15. The next year, she studied abroad in Rome, Italy. At age 17, she started college in the United States in Washington, and moved to California the following year. At age 20, she backpacked through Central America and Europe for six months before living in New York, Canada, and Hong Kong.
Two years ago, already an experienced globe trotter, Ho rollerbladed from Savannah, Georgia to Miami, Florida. The trip totaled 600 miles and 19 days, and she did it without any money. She writes on her website that “at first, I knew nobody, but soon everyone became my family on the road!” Her current journey is far more ambitious – 6000 miles from Miami to Los Angeles to New York.
When AsAmNews talked to Ms. Ho, she had traveled for sixty nights across approximately 2,500 miles. From Florida, up the East Coast, and onto the Midwest, she has managed to find strangers to host her each night and provide her with a meal or two before sending her on her way. She skates approximately 30 miles per day, and makes sure to stop before it gets too dark.
“When I’m skating, people will stop me and ask me what I’m doing,” Ho told AsAmNews. “I tell them about my mission, and they usually offer to give me a place to stay.”
Ho differentiates her daily search for a host from the needs of individuals and families experiencing homelessness. “The difference,” she says, “is that they are immobile. If someone sees me traveling through, they’re willing to share whatever they have because they know it’s not going to last so long.” She thinks that “most people are very willing to help [people in need of homes] too, but it’s a different extreme. They still do whatever they can in their capacity to help them, though.” Ho has visited charity organizations, including facilities run by the Salvation Army.
“Anybody can get a job there and stay there. I feel like there are a lot of ways that society’s helping homeless people,” she claims. “The kindness that people give me could be the same kindness that they would give a homeless person, but it’s just different types of needs.”
One of Ho’s goals is to raise awareness and money to stop child marriage. Before starting her journey, she set up the Bladress Scholarship, and hopes to raise $60,000 to provide secondary education to girls in Kenya and Uganda. An advocate for ending child marriage, Ho says that education is among the best preventative measures. So far, she has raised $13,000 through online donations on her website. Ho feels like “this is my calling – to help girls that really just need a chance to learn about themselves, what they want to do or who they can be.”
The journey has allowed her to see many different parts of America. “Every thirty miles is different and very eye-opening,” she observes.
Ho started in Florida, and as she skated up north, realized “I realized that I was taking southern hospitality for granted.” She explained, “In the south, I would be skating on the side of the road and a lot of cars would pull over, say ‘hi,’ and just give me a hug.” Starting somewhere in Virginia, Ho recalls that few cars pulled over for her and it took longer to find people to host her for the night.
Throughout her journey, Ho has skated through cities with different levels of racial diversity, providing her with a new outlook of America. “When a lot of people think about America, they only think about New York, LA, Miami,” she says. “But really, when I go through the whole US, the majority of the US is really agricultural.” When it comes to diversity, the bottom line is that “most places are just not diverse.” At the time of the interview, Ho was in a small Nebraskan town which was 98% White.
In many of these towns, her Asianness – in addition to her rollerblades – makes her stand out. She recalls that “people would come up and assume that I’m a foreigner. They would just come up and ask if I was from China or Japan without me even speaking.” Ho admits some annoyance over these constant, unsolicited questions about her nationality, but is quick to add, “I just know that they just don’t know. It’s not that they’re trying to be mean.”
Ho told AsAmNews that she believes the hospitality she has received has little to do with her race. She acknowledges the differences in how people of different races are perceived.
“If I were a huge black male, [the strangers who have hosted her] would be frightened to talk to me at first because racial prejudice has been a deep-rooted issue,” she claims. But Ho believes that “it might take them a lot longer to win someone’s heart but if they have the sweetest personality, most people would offer a hand.”
She says that “a lot of people think that the only reason why a lot of people are nice to me is because I’m a young Asian female.” She references another rollerblader, known as Mike on Blades, a White man who is undertaking a similar journey. “He’s pretty much doing a similar thing as me. He’s a big bearded guy, 6’2″, 200 pounds. He also has this cheerful, bubbly personality and that’s why he’s been receiving a similar kind of kindness.”
“Personality is the key,” Ho insists. “It really starts from you to determine how other people see you and whether they want to be kind to you.”
Yanise is documenting her journey on her website.
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