While I would say I have gathered a few life changing moments in my short life thus far, this particular story tells a tale of love – for life, following what your heart tells you and letting the confusion of life take over.
It was a warm Tuesday afternoon in Buenos Aries, I was sitting in an air conditioned classroom on one of the most famous streets in the city, Avenida Corrientes. Know for its bookshops (my favorite was an old theater turned bookstore), it is famously termed ‘the street that never sleeps’. I was 19 and had somehow financed my way to a study abroad course in Argentina for a month.
While study abroad’s had academic coursework – they were rarely about that. They were more for the ‘cultural exchange’ of Quilmes (local beer) and the locals themselves. Yet, I found myself wrapped up in the coursework focused on the effects of globalization.
On this particular day, we had just visited a factory full of blue collar workers wearing little protective equipment and all too skinny. Not to mention our ride there saw many begging children and homeless scattered along the streets. It was my 5th day in the country and I am only slightly ashamed to say that I had a small hangover from our excipades from the night before.
After our field trip, we returned to our classy air conditioned apartment in one of the wealthiest areas of the city. Our professor was asking us what we thought of the experience and we proceeded to discuss the issues of the poor. It was at this moment that it hit me.
I was very, very rich. And it all seemed too unfair in the scheme of the world.
While I was a ‘struggling’ college student – I was in college, in America and born into a family that while they could not afford to pay for college, where defiantly middle class America. Yet, I was born into a society, a nation, that had more opportunity and wealth that a strong 80% of the world would never see. Regardless, we sat there, in our air conditioned, fancy classroom and pretended to discuss issues of the poor like we knew exactly what they went through every day! Ridiculous!
It was at that moment, confused and confronted with the reality of world poverty (and believe me Argentina is not even close to the real poverty line) that I made a very important decision in my life: I would dedicate my life to the service of others.
It was the only way I could begin to accept the random occurance that placed me in America and berka wearing oppressed women in other countries. It drove me nuts that people could parade around in their prada and pretend like they didnt notice the poor in their own country!
At 19 I was about to discover that the issue of poverty was far more complicated than I ever imagined, however, I have never regretted my decision to live for others. For as long as I have lived, I still believe it is the only way to achieve true happiness… for yourself.