Meet Joliene Carolina, a fierce advocate for the preservation of languages and responsible representation in storytelling.

What happens if the world’s languages go extinct? That’s the central question to the work of freelance travel and adventure writer Joliene Carolina, a passionate advocate for endangered languages and the cultures they represent. Through her writing, she shines a spotlight on the urgent need for language preservation, recognizing the profound connection between language and identity.

Joliene’s advocacy extends beyond words; she actively engages with communities, offering support and empowerment in their efforts to revitalize their linguistic heritage. In a world where languages are disappearing rapidly, Joliene’s commitment serves as a beacon of hope. Her story reminds us of the importance of preserving linguistic diversity and cultural heritage for generations to come. Join Joliene in her mission to celebrate and safeguard the rich tapestry of human language and culture.

A finalist for the 2024 Bessie Awards for Most Impactful Piece of Writing. Joliene Carolina’s article “Can travel help save the world’s most threatened languages?” highlights languages at risk of disappearing around the world.

A headshot of Joliene Carolina
Photo courtesy of Joliene Carolina

The Bessies honor women and gender-diverse people of impact in travel, particularly influencers, creative entrepreneurs, marketers, and other representatives who have contributed unique voices and work to the travel industry.

The Most Impactful Piece of Writing award honors an inspiring, engaging, and community-oriented piece of writing that has encouraged dialogue and interaction in the last year. 

Learn more about the Bessie Awards and the other finalists. Get your ticket to join us at the award ceremony in Utah this April!

Joliene Carolina, Educator Turned Travel Industry Professional

While her academic interests are quite serious, Joliene loves nothing more than sharing genuine laughter across culture and language barriers. She believes all great things begin and happen with an open mind, open heart, and open ears.

That belief certainly served her well when her life shifted dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ve been a traveler since 1997,” she explains, “but my formal professional relationship with the travel industry happened in 2020. Until then, I was a language educator and academic who enjoyed traveling and sometimes lived overseas. In March 2020, I was recalled from overseas life due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I’d been living and working for two years on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and moved back home to Portland, Oregon. Pretty quickly after moving home, I discovered Wanderful online and met my now husband.”

While 2020 was a year of pause for the travel industry, it was also a year of deep connection among travel creators and travel lovers. The global Wanderful community thrived during that time. We fostered meaningful community connections and helped women and gender-diverse folks from all around the world to feel supported during a tumultuous time.

“I was empowered, supported, educated, and encouraged by the women I met on Wanderful. And by my own professional creative husband,” Joliene recalls. “Through this support, I decided to swing for the bleachers with my travel writing dreams and apply my storytelling abilities to advocate for a more just, equitable, and positively impactful travel industry.”

“Through this support, I decided to swing for the bleachers with my travel writing dreams and apply my storytelling abilities to advocate for a more just, equitable, and positively impactful travel industry.”

Joliene Carolina

Joline left her job in the education sector, which despite paying well, left her burnt out, unfulfilled, and unhappy. 

“With great models to follow in the badass women I was meeting and in my own badass husband who followed his heart and became a professional dancer.” She continues, “I got 110% behind my creatively driven and ethically minded goals. I’ve been full-throttling it in the responsibly-minded corner of travel ever since.”

Joliene Carolina stands on suitcase at Portland International Airport

Joliene Carolina, Advocating for Languages Among Travel Lovers

Joliene tells us that she is encouraged by the curiosity people show about her work. 

“People often just really have no idea but are very curious when they learn about languages being lost around the world and what it means for all of us. Particularly those of us who love connecting with other cultures,” she explains. 

Joliene Carolina knows that language and culture are inseparable, so she says that travelers who love cultural experiences usually sympathize when they learn of this issue so close to her heart. “Then they want to know more.” She says, “So awareness spreads about language endangerment and how it’s tied to other things lots of people care about. Like the climate crisis and decolonizing the travel industry.”

As a relative newcomer to the travel industry, Joliene certainly hasn’t let that slow her down. “I wanted and want to be one of the women fighting for a better world and healthier global community via travel,” she says. “And I want to use my writing to pass the mic to other voices not heard so often historically.”

Her passion for language preservation is rivaled only by her commitment to uplifting others.  

“I’m just so encouraged by the progress I see others making in fighting for a more equitable, just, and responsible travel industry,” Joliene offers. “I want to be part of this, and I want to be badass for the right reasons. Just as I see other women doing. Badass for speaking when my voice shakes, and championing causes others might not be aware of.”

I want to be badass for the right reasons. Just as I see other women doing. Badass for speaking when my voice shakes, and championing causes others might not be aware of.

Joliene Carolina

Joliene’s Greatest Inspirations

Joliene says she looks up to writers and creators in the travel industry who embody thoughtfulness and responsibility. She specifically mentions JoAnna Haugan, founder of Rooted Storytelling; Dr. Kiona, founder of Reroot Travel; and Justine Abigail Yu, known for her work in creating the Living Hyphen literary community. 

Each of these individuals stands out for their courage, commitment to positive change, and uplifting of diverse voices.

Important Issues Facing the Travel Industry

Joliene Carolina with suitcase and sunglasses

“The travel industry cannot ignore the climate crisis and how that changing climate impacts people, places, and ‘destinations.’ The travel industry, if it wants to promote a healthier global community, likewise can’t ignore the history of extractionist practices historically connected to travel,” Joliene declares. 

“Travel and travelers can very much be an extension of colonialist practices and mindsets. So can travel writers, if they don’t choose to invest in learning more about responsible representation and storytelling,” she continues.

“Parachute traveling, content creation, and journalism…has to stop. It doesn’t make for healthy global relationships, doesn’t deepen our understanding of one another. And places the primacy on the voice of the traveler, not of the people in the places on visits.”

With her unique perspective as a former educator, Joliene believes that most people just need more awareness, education, and understanding of how to have a more positive impact and experience in the world. And she is forging ahead with that mission in every way she can.

“Little feels better than going for what you believe in, even when the path is not clear, and sticking with it because you know in your soul it’s right for you and is your gift to offer the world,” she tells us.

Little feels better than going for what you believe in, even when the path is not clear, and sticking with it because you know in your soul it’s right for you and is your gift to offer the world.

Joliene Carolina

Recognition and Gratitude

Having the Wanderful community nominate her for a Bessie Award means everything to Joliene. ”I have so much respect for so gosh darn many of the women and allies I’ve met associated with Wanderful,” she gushes. 

“One of my absolute favorite parts of being a writer is getting to interview people,” Joliene mentions. “It’s truly a gift to be able to just sit and listen to someone’s story, and learn about what they care about. It makes me feel a lot better about the world to constantly interact with other people’s good work and hearts.”

The nomination, particularly for the Most Impactful Piece of Writing, is an honor that aligns with Joliene’s life mission. It also signifies recognition of languages in peril, a cause close to Joliene Carolina’s heart.

“My life has also centered on how to uplift others and share in joy through cross-cultural connection,” she says. “So, it’s a complete honor to be nominated for the Most Impactful Piece of Writing by an organization that itself has had such an impact on my life and on so many around the world.”