Friday, August 1, 2014

Jeevika: Week Six + Some thoughts on being an Expat

I got sick at the beginning of this week so this post is coming a little late, sorry! I am finalizing the report with my supervisor and will be showing it to the executive director next week. I am also finishing up my interviews and have started writing my lit review and my methods section. I have more work than time but I feel that's always the situation. 

Up until now I have kept my posts to recounting my daily life and work. But I have done much thinking about what it means to be an American expat in India and what problems arise with language that’s used, assumptions that are made, and just the presence of American expats in some situations. I was going to post a very long post about my experiences and how frustrated they have made me and also how eye-opening they have been, both about my own personal actions and about those of others. I have instead decided to post a few short thoughts and spare everyone the rant.

A culture should not be reduced down to its attire, or other aesthetic aspects. A country should not be represented purely by someone’s (mis)perceptions of its religions. A country’s history cannot be ignored when thinking about its current problems, as this leads to blaming these problems on a lack of motivation to change by its current population. Those who are traveling abroad (especially white Americans I feel) should not complain about the way they are treated without acknowledging what they represent. 

These few thoughts mostly represent the frustrating things I’ve encountered being an expat. They cannot fully be described in this small paragraph but this gives you a sense of what lessons I have learned as well as what assumptions are made by some expats. It is hard to know these things when living at home, but I feel a real effort should be made by those going abroad to be as conscious of their position as possible. I have been so fortunate to also meet very many young adults like myself who are more intelligent and aware than I will probably ever be. 

I realize that these thoughts are probably very familiar to many people who have lived lives closely related to these problems. I apologize for having to come to India to learn these things as each week I have realized more and more that I am a walking example of global inequality.  I also recognize that I have most likely perpetuated something that has frustrated me at some point and hope that I can minimize this as much as possible. 

Finally, I would like to motion that the word primitive no longer be used to describe people, their living conditions, or their behavior. 

1 comment:

  1. Very thoughtful post, Emily! I hope this is something that you continue to reflect on during the rest of your time there and upon your return home.