What can I say? Six months later and I still haven’t come to terms with my experience from over the sumer. Six months later and the memories compiled are filed in the depths of my brain only to be found when convenient. Six months and a few hundred dollars later I find myself fatter due to numerous #6 combos from Mexican restaurants (the drug of choice to preoccupy my mind at times). Six months later and I realize I avoid church when missionaries are scheduled to visit in order to save face. Otherwise I’d be that blubbering sap in the corner donating her life savings for some cause- any cause that promises relief, or become the angsty teenager in the front thinking, “These people, these Americans, they can’t fathom the poverty this guy is describing on the pulpit because they’ve never been surrounded by it.” But all the while I become angry with myself knowing that I have only scratched and sniffed the sticker of poverty.
So what do I do? I often think about the people we met along the way. Did the people at the rally ever get their demands fulfilled? Is Father Paulo still drinking his bright green yerba mate while watching over the seafarers? What about the Overseas Workers we met in Little Manila? I can only assume that they are probably facing the same horrible work conditions, along with thousands of other people around the world. And what ever happened to the people we met in Kaohsiung, the most poignant meeting of our trip?
Sometimes I wonder what was our purpose of going other than to travel to “exotic” lands and to gain experience in field. Personally, I was hoping to see if my interest in women’s rights could turn into a passion. However, after finishing all of the required work and having plenty of time to mull over the excursion, it only seems fitting to point out the obvious: the study was not solely about me. It was about the interactions we had with people who are placed in difficult situations. The middle of August, which denoted the end of our course as required by our university, is not its ultimate conclusion, instead I now find it obligatory to share my research and experiences with others in order to help those left behind.