Thursday, August 24, 2017

Transitioning Back

I’ve been having difficulty writing this final blog for a while now. It’s been about a month since I’ve returned from my home in Soroti, Uganda. As the days pass by, I wait for passively for a solution for all the problems in the world to appear. But unfortunately or maybe fortunately, the world is not black and white. There is no simple revelation from my time abroad, no easy epiphany that will rid the world of problems.

Our last day in Soroti

When I first got off the plane from Kampala, Uganda and entered the Amsterdam airport, I immediately thought that everything was so clean- from the sparkly white floor, to the plethora of lights making impossible to tell whether its day or night, to the rows of stores begging passersby to buy the highest brand purse or watch. The first store on the right had a red sign declaring that Lola by Dior was being sold for only one hundred and fifteen euros – more than Betty’s sheet metal workers make in a year.

Despite my efforts, I couldn’t help being disgusted. As I walked by each high end boutique with advertisements designed to propagate insecurities and create unnecessary desires all in the interest of making money, I wasn’t sure if I was in a dream. A toddler was crying about not being able to play on his dad’s iphone, a young teenage girl was pouting to her mom, two men tried to make their way to the front of the security line by cutting anyone they could. Voyagers looked tired, parents had a short temper, and children wanted more. I don’t mean any of this with reproach – traveling is very tiring.

But the combination of stores telling me to buy, buy, buy and families with Gucci bags and Swiss watches complaining about waiting for their plane, really emphasized that the disproportionate wealth distribution is a terrible problem and one that is so difficult to solve. That’s definitely one of the worst part about culture shock- really realizing that you are living in excess wealth but that you can’t just throw money at a problem. Now I don’t even think that throwing time and education will solve anything either.

There is no simple solution to helping underprivileged communities in Boston, or in the United States or around the world – I think everyone can attest to that. In fact sometimes I now think that helping people around the world is not a solution, which is very difficult for me to accept. But this does not mean I think we should allow ignorance to be our bliss. We should be very aware of all the privileges that we all have. But other than that, I have no idea what we should all do.

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