Genvieve Johnson has done her fair share of traveling that one could say she should write a book. Well, maybe she has not written a book yet, but she did do the next best thing by starting a website in early 2017 that documented her travels.
The idea to start the website came
after she was continually asked by
friends to recommend destinations
that were not tourist traps in the
many countries that she had
traveled to. Instead of compiling
lists and emails, she thought it
better to put it all into one place
and then just share the link.
“My wanderlust to travel started
when I was young,” Johnson
explained. “My father has been a
musician his entire life and he
geared towards playing middle
eastern music after he got sick of
playing the guitar. So, he picked up
playing the oud – which is similar
to the guitar. He then traveled based
on performances with the oud,
which took us to Morocco and
Turkey, and a number of other
places when I was younger. From
there, I just fell in love with travel.”
The blog, found at
documents her travels and has also
become a place where she keeps
her memories of the amazing locations
that she has been.
“After traveling with my dad, I did a study abroad program that was a semester at sea through UVA,” Johnson continued. “Throughout that semester, we visited 13 countries. Because we only had a few days in each country, we would make specific lists of what we wanted to do to make the most of our time there. We also would have a class prior to arriving that would teach us about the currency and lifestyle of that country before we arrived. I just learned so much about human beings in general during that experience that it allowed me to fall in love with so many cultures and people and gave me the urge to keep traveling.”
Johnson also recollected that the experiences brought some perspective to her life back in New York. That while New York might seem big and daunting, she noted that it was nothing compared to what some of these people and countries endured and went through on a daily basis – giving her the appreciation for what she had, and understanding of what others did not.
“One of the most unforgettable memories that I had during my travels was when we went to India,” Johnson said. “India has to have been one of the most impoverished countries I have ever been to. I just remember that there were all these kids around me during our trip, and I had a pen in my hand and they kept begging me to have the pen. Then it dawned on me, that even the pen was something that I took for granted. I had a dozen of them on my desk or in my bag, and it didn’t cross my mind once that it was something to be appreciative for. It just gave me such perspective.”
The experience led Johnson to add to her travels the custom of always packing an extra bag that had markers, crayons, or varying other items that she could share and leave with people in the country she was headed too. She just wanted to find a way that she could share some of the small things that would invoke joy and change in the lives of those people she met during her travels.
“In 2017, I was able to travel to Thailand for the third time, and I have to say it is one of my favorite countries,” said Johnson. “I feel like I get to know the country more and more every time I go. It is a country that I definitely recommend because the people are so giving and welcoming, the food is amazing, and the country and different islands are just so beautiful.”
While Johnson can often be found planning her next big trip, or writing about her most recent one, something that is even closer to her heart than travel is her humanitarian pursuits and work in St. John, the smallest of the 3 U.S. Virgin Islands.
On the hunt for the perfect Christmas Tree, Our very own Marcy, played by Autumn Guzzardi in Dog Sees God, won't stop, until the perfect tree for CB has been found.
Genvieve Johnson and Raymond James in St. John
“I started traveling to St. John as an infant with my family,” Johnson explained. “It was our big family trip every year when I was younger, and we officially made it one of our homes when my parents bought a place there this past year. I am actually also going to be getting married on the island in 2018.”
In reference to her marriage, Johnson was slated to get married in January 2018, which would have been right in the middle of rehearsals for Dog Sees God, but because of Hurricane Irma, which hit the U.S. Virgin Islands, she had to postpone her nuptials until the Spring.
“While I never would have wanted such a natural disaster to happen like it did, it forced me to delay my wedding which actually allowed me to audition and participate in this show’s run,” Johnson explained. “While I had to delay my wedding, the more important effect of the Hurricane was what it did to the people of the island and the devastation that it caused.”
Johnson talked about how many of her friends that she had come to know over the years had been placed in shelters, as the Category 5 Hurricane left the island torn apart.
“For a while, because communication was down, I was not
actually able to get in contact with them,” Johnson explained.
“Then after Irma came Hurricane Maria, which added more
flooding and forced FEMA and other relief services to leave the
islands because they could not be housed there. So, while I
wanted to head down myself to help, I realistically could not get
on the islands because travel had been shut down. In addition,
any extra people in the area would be a strain on resources, so
I started looking into ways that I could help from New York. So,
a friend of mine started a St. John Relief fund, and I was able to
use that network to send non-perishable food, water, and animal
food down to the islands.”
As an animal lover, Johnson admitted that while she was very
concerned about her friends and the population of the island that
had been displaced and needed help, she could not help but think
about all the animals too that had no families or homes either. So,
she wanted to make sure to send help for them as well.
“I also did a fundraiser at a Tribeca bar to raise money that we
could send toward the relief,” Johnson continued. “It was just a nice way that my friends in the city could help me put together support for the relief efforts. My mom, who owns and runs preschools in lower Manhattan, and I also put a recipe book together as a fundraiser through her schools. The book consisted of traditional recipes that came from the families of the children of the school, and they sold them before the Holiday break. All the proceeds from that fundraiser went to the Non-Profit Group Partners for Hope, which is engaged in building container homes on the island to help provide shelter for those people who lost their homes during the storms.”
Spending even just 30 minutes with Johnson you can see that she is not short of heart, and she spends a lot of time thinking about how her efforts and gifts can benefit others. But, I could not let the attention drive too far away from a big event coming up in Johnson’s life, her wedding to her fiancé Raymond James.
“We are so excited about the upcoming date,” Johnson said with a big smile. “Everyone has been great as far as the scheduling and just rolling with the punches. For Raymond and I, we both knew we were going to get married, so the bigger concern was helping with the rebuilding of the island and making sure everyone was ok during the recovery time. We are happy, in the end, that we took time to let the island heal and have the focus be on that rather than our wedding.”
The two met while they were in college, living across the hall from each other during Johnson’s sophomore year. Remaining friends for most of college, James made the next step to ask Johnson on a date to a Yankee game and the rest is history. A love story that will end with rings and vows being exchanged come this Spring.
“I have dreamed about getting married on St. John since I was a kid,” Johnson said. “So, we are excited to put up a tent, have local bands play, have local caterers provide the food and celebrate with our closest family and friends.”
We hope that you come to see Johnson as she plays the role of Tricia in Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead in its final weekend of performances February 9-11 at Matthew Corozine Studio Theatre, located at 357 West 36th, #202, New York, NY, 10018. Tickets are on sale for $18 at www.BrownPaperTickets.com, and the show will last 90 minutes with no intermission.