Why? People have continually asked me why — why would I choose to venture across the world, away from everything familiar. It’s an honest, daunting question that I have tried, and will continue to attempt to answer. My answer begins with Jackie, a young Belizean girl. Each time I visit Central America I am astounded and horrified, overjoyed and saddened by a simplistic happiness that is bound in daily struggle. After spending a week in the children’s home reading, playing, listening, and snuggling, Jackie asked me to promise that I would come back. Without hesitation, I said yes. I said yes to a global, yet personal responsibility that overshadows comfortable career choices which nicely blanket my 401k.
I turn on a water faucet multiple times a day, expecting clean, temperature-regulated water. I visit the doctor if I am ill, expecting immediate relief. I turn on the air condition on a hot, summer day and avoid the heat in every way possible. I drive two minutes and visit a grocery store with an abundance of fresh, organic food. I shop online, with everything imaginable shipped overnight to my front door. I attend a university, surrounded by 24-7 access to knowledge, technology, culture and diverse opinion.
Jackie sleeps in a small house with 49 other children and adolescents. Jackie suffers from worms as a result of a lack of clean water. Jackie walks to school, rain or shine, heat and humidity. Jackie grows up holding on to her family, defined by the people who come in and out of the children’s home, because these faces are dependable. Health care is nonexistent for Jackie — it is defined by occasional visits from foreign doctors and medical volunteers. Crime goes unpunished and free, as legal matters are tied in the aftermath of a corrupt government. Dentistry is a luxury that only a few obtain, no regular cleanings and x-rays, no fillings for that aching tooth. Jackie unknowingly painted my picture of responsibility.
I am now equipped with an idealistic, yet educated passion that will carry me to Cape Verde. I envision education through discussion, exchange and partnerships that will meticulously redefine our world for the better. It begins with reciprocity of communication, ideas and development. Americans must relearn as well as rebuild a happiness that is currently lost in materialism, power and white picket fences. I must learn how to achieve without wanting, work without hurry, and appreciate without envy.
My decision to commit to Cape Verde for 2.5 years, as both teacher and student, is defined by an undaunted craving for prosperity — an exchange of wealth including happiness, sustainability, equality and knowledge.
I invite you, my avid reader and fellow confidant, to begin this life-changing journey with me as my intrepid co-explorer of thought and conversation.
Seek. Enjoy. Taste. Question.