Yesterday, my roommate asked me how much my Middlebury tuition costs. I didn’t answer him. I only replied that I was very lucky that my parents were able to pay so much money. And so here I am typing away on my laptop, looking up characters on my (albeit used) PDA, and writing in $15USD Moleskin notebooks. While I only have about two more changes of clothes than he does, I know I have a lot more back home. And my only response is that I am just luckier than him. And he is luckier than many others in China.
And so I come to privilege. I don’t think many of the American students appreciate just how nice the program is here in Beijing. Bathrooms with Western toilets, ADSL internet, clean bed sheets every week, and the list goes on. Instead, there is a lot of complaining already at the smells, sights, and sounds of China. The bathroom smells. The food is bad. I can’t drink the water. Yes, it’s what is termed “culture shock.” Well it should really be termed “privilege shock.”
Imagine sending us to India, Guatamala, Afghanistan, or maybe just rural China. We’re not purposely being spoiled brats just yet but I am saying that the starting mentality when first coming to a new place can’t be one of privilege. So when I shortly and inevitably start complaining about inefficiencies and Olympic unpreparedness, send me the link back to this post so I can remember to be thankful for what I got.