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Just a thought on study abroad

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We left America a week ago, and the Friday before went to the local public branch to speak to a pre-health advisor (dd is interested in that area). This lady happened to have been the international program coordinator previously, and enjoyed hearing about some of our experiences in India and France.


Dh has always wanted the kids to study abroad in college, but when I asked her about it, she said she didn't think dd needed to, and indeed, would have a hard time doing it and the rigorous science program she's interested in.


She especially seemed to think that the experience in the developing world made further travel optional rather than essential for dd. She said that living in Europe is great, and for many kids it is already a big step. But she seemed to really look favorably on experience in the Third World. It might be something to keep in mind if your kids are planning to do study abroad. Anyway, just fyi. :)

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Thanks for the encouragement, TM.:)


I just wanted to mention this because I think a lot of kids just plan to go to Europe if they study abroad, but it might be better to go to Africa or Asia. To be honest, after I posted this yesterday, dd read it and said everybody already knows this, Mom. But I don't know if that's true. I wouldn't have known it if that professor hadn't mentioned it. And it wasn't like she said it's bad to go to Europe. She just thinks it's more enlightening to go to developing countries, and I think she's right.


Here in India we've really had a chance to see what America and Europe probably looked like 100 years ago. We saw the milkman come with his cart and deliver milk to the neighbors when we lived in the first city we were in here. We see servants being very subservient to their "masters" (they really call you that!). We see wealthy people not questioning their position in society (God gave it to them; God wants them to be rich and the poor to be poor), just like it used to be in Europe before the Enlightenment. We've seen how limiting a patriarchal society is. We're able to look at America with a much more critical eye now than before; so many things we were just blind to.


So I guess this is just some kind of commercial for study abroad in the Third World.:D

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It is definitely an eye-opening experience. I was a foreign exchange student in Paraguay thirty years ago, where I could look out the window and see oxen plowing a field, see amputees and horribly disfigured people, including children, begging for food, deal with army policemen carrying submachine guns, watch a black market in operation, be followed in the streets for being blond. It was disturbing, sad, very restrictive for women -- this was still the age of duennas and no girl was allowed to go anywhere alone -- and at the time I absolutely hated it. It was only after being back in the US for some years and eventually traveling in other areas that I began to realize what a valuable experience I'd been given.


A few years ago my dd and I played a game from a Klutz book called Earthsearch, in which a spinner determined the likelihood of a child being born into a developed country vs. a developing nation and/or a nation afflicted with drought, war, etc. Both of us ended up in the worst possible category, and looking at the physical layout of the spinner, you could see in the most literal sense how tiny a chance you would have of being born into a wealthy, comfortable, peaceful nation. This was a very sobering experience too.


Adding: jld, did I miss this -- where are you now? How is it going?

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We're back in India, KarenAnne, and I'm totally jet-lagged! I slept from 9:30 a.m. today until 7:30 p.m.! Some bodies were not meant to travel, I think.


I hear you on hating the experience in Paraguay, but realizing later how valuable it was. You just see things differently after you've lived it.


I totally agree with you that when you start out in difficult conditions, it's very hard to get out of them. Maybe even impossible for some people. I think when Americans hear that, they think, no way, I started out poor and I am much better off now, so those people can do it, too. But I'm not sure people understand how much harder it can be in the developing world.


You know, creekland and I have had an interesting set of exchanges, and I really have appreciated hearing more of her point of view. I'm not even sure that we disagree on that much, though we probably vote differently. When I say I'm a liberal, I mean that I want a safety net, a real one, for the poor and middle class. I may need it someday! I don't mean that I want dependency for people. I don't want dependency for me, either. Even my dependence, mainly financial but also a fair bit emotional, on my husband, is somewhat limiting to me as a human being. I have heard, and believe, that the best social program is a job.


You know, I think some more honest discussions on this topic could be pretty enlightening. Really looking at facts, and putting ourselves in the shoes of the nation's, and the world's, poorest people could really get us looking at things differently.


ETA: I think one of the best ways to get our minds stretched is to listen, really listen, to people who vote differently than we do, to really get inside their heads and try to understand where they're coming from. Noam Chomsky has warned progressives not to ridicule people in the Tea Party, but to try to understand why they're voting that way, and to find common ground. I learn a lot from reading FaithManor's posts, creekland's, and plenty of others. If there could be more of an effort to seek to understand first, and then seek to be understood, we could probably find more solutions to problems, instead of having debates and getting threads closed and having posters banned. (I understand how hard it is to be patient; I just stop listening, too, when my emotions take over instead of my head. But it doesn't help me. It certainly doesn't solve problems.)

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jld - Try to think of being dependent as being part of a whole, a whole with a division of labour. If the members of your family are willing to specialize, at least a bit, life is more efficient. I, too, am dependent, and that worries me sometimes, but if you take this to the logical extreme, I think one gets a situation in which one is afraid to even love anyone because that makes one less independent. That, obviously, is not a good way to exist. And if you want to push into the extemes of philosophy GRIN, I believe that nobody is as independent as they think they are. Ecologically speaking, you aren't an organism that can live independent of other organisms, either. I guess I'm just trying to comfort you (and probably not doing a very good job) by pointing out that even very independent people aren't really independent. It might be nice to know that you could support yourself and your children easily if you had to, but that ease would most likely come with the price of not getting to be home with them. Would you really want to trade that? Isn't it better to assure yourself that you are a competent adult and would figure it out somehow, with lots of help, if you had to, and in the meanwhile, you are doing your share of the work in your family, even if it is more internal work than external work? Doesn't your husband rely on you, too, both emotionally and for extra loving child care and education and whatever? I understand that it is scary. I get scared, too. We are frighteningly vulnerable. But wouldn't it be more scary not to be? And by accepting the risk and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, we can do good things, things that we couldn't do if we refused. (My problem is that I like my half of the family jobs so much better than my husband's half, and I know that he would, too. It seems like to be fair, we should take turns.)


I think one of the bad things to come out of women's lib (amongst the very many good things) is a general feeling that the jobs that women traditionally do - food, clothing, childcare, etc., are somehow of less value to society and to the family. There is a general pc feeling that if one's husband calls one a "good cook" that it is insulting.



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Doesn't your husband rely on you, too, both emotionally and for extra loving child care and education and whatever?


This is wonderfully said, and good for me to hear, Nan. My dh is an Aspie and as such not that emotionally involved in family matters, but nonetheless this is a reminder that he does indeed rely on me to HAVE a family to come home to (he does value that, just not in the shape or form that others might), and for all its workings.

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I totally agree, Nan, and believe me, my dh wants me home.


But I regularly hear criticism of liberals for causing dependency among the poor. What I would like to point out (as you have done) is that many of us are dependent, too. We're welfare moms, with our dhs being the welfare providers. Some people just aren't so lucky.

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Some people just aren't so lucky.


This is absolutely true.


What is also true is that the US economy (not to speak of other economies around the world) is subsidized and underwritten by the unpaid or very poorly paid labor of people, mostly women, who do things such as:


--care for elderly relatives (both their own and their husband's), keep them in their own homes, make meals, clean, etc.

--care for young children

--homeschool kids for whom the school options available are inadequate or downright horrible

--work as unpaid assistants for their husband's business

--work in low prestige jobs like cleaning, day care, elder care, waitressing at lower level restaurants/cafes, restocking things at superstores, and other jobs that do not pay adequately to support a family and do not include health care, retirement contributions, or anything else

--face huge obstacles in getting adequate child allowances or collecting payments the courts have ordered but delinquent fathers never paid


And while naturally there are exceptions, women as a group still earn less than 80 cents on the dollar compared to men's earnings for the same jobs.


I just wish that more people, and the government, recognized that economic "dependency" or subsidization is a two-way street here.

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