“Alone, human beings can feel hunger. Alone, we can feel cold. Alone, we can feel pain. To feel poor, however, is something we do only in comparison to others.”- Eric Greitens
In this quote Eric Greitens asserts that poverty is something that can only be noticed when comparing ones self to another. As Glimpsers, we were able to leave our comfort zones and experience what it is actually like to “Live Like a Local.” As privileged Americans we tend to view impoverished people as unhappy due to their economic status, but as stated by Eric Greitens, we can only call them poor because we are comparing them to ourselves.
On Sunday July 11 the second delegation of Glimpsers visiting San Juan, Dominican Republic of 2015 visited the campo of Mabrigida. Similar to Greitens’ quote, today as Glimpsers we realized that living the day as a local modifies our opinion on how privileged Americans view those who don’t have the similar amenities that are our norm. Today challenged what we believed to be normal to with what is billions of people’s realities. Today was quite emotional from what we encountered. In order to live as a local, we first sacrificed a few “simple things”: instead of taking showers with running water we took bucket showers, and we gave up fans that used electricity. On the bus ride in San Juan the Glimpsers viewed the change from the tall buildings to bright colorful shacks people call their homes. In order to get the true experience as a local, Glimpsers ate like locals, consuming bread and hot chocolate for breakfast to on arrival, getting to work as the people who live in Mabrigida, and replicating their average days.
Greiten’s message hit home for many Glimpsers today. As young adults we’ve realized, that happiness isn’t determined by the material objects that we Americans tend to worship, it’s about being grateful for the lives we have. Many people from Mabrigida constantly stated how happy they were for the life they had. Every question such as “What are you grateful for?” had the response of “God, my family and my life.” On contrast many questions such as “What do you do for fun?”, consisted of “We don’t get to have much fun, we work all day every day, we don’t have the money to have fun.” Their responses made us rethink our own perspectives and how good many of us have it. We may have financial and great life issues and problems of our own, but in comparison we have many opportunities based on the luck of where we were born, the people of Mabrigida don’t have the luxuries we often take for granted.
Coming from my first hand experience today was a great day, 3 other Glimpsers and myself went to the home of a woman named Larissa, who welcomed with generous arms and offered food and coffee, though we politely declined. As we were at her house we swept, mopped, played with her children, braided a friend of the family’s hair and we talked. We felt no barrier, not even through language. She made us feel comfortable, although there was a feeling of somberness because we were aware of her socioeconomic status. But to be honest, it didn’t matter because she made us feel like home. By lunch we served the locals vegetable rice that other glimpsers prepared with a family and ate with them and after, played games with the children, and people like Ivie, Amanda and Jewel, twisted a local’s hair.
At the end of the day when we left the community Mabrigda, the Glimpsers walked away with the feeling of gratefulness of what we have back home. The view of impoverished people in the world also changed. In order to be happy in life it’s not about the job you have, the car, clothes or the money in the bank, it’s about being happy and being grateful for every day we’re given.