So, the P-word caused quite a bit of ruckus among my family when I mentioned it to them, and clearly there is much thinking to be done before making a concrete decision. But regardless, as a combination of my stuttering of trying to explain why would I want to “throw away 2 years of my life” and as a product of, well, the essay question to explain why I actually want to do this, welp, here we go: please, let me know what you think!
“A little girl might be my death tomorrow,” the poet’s flow reveals a darker twist to the Newton’s acknowledgement of standing on the shoulders of giants. In the United States I am living in institutions stacked on top of each other so high on shoulder-blades that the “idyllic primitive life” is now hailed. In hopes of reconciling clash between the happiness and guilt that I feel from being born in such privilege of a middle-class American, I am applying to the Peace Corps with two goals: first is to repay the indirect debt I own the world by supporting dominant institutions, and second, to attempt to view the world with my foot on the ground, not at the top tier of development.
The concept of indirect harm slowly grew from my annual trips to China. Currently, the nation is known as the factory of the world, disregarding the health consequences of workers making goods that will ultimately be shipped to the United States, Europe—and within China. This brings me to my second observation: while China has had a history of being exploited for the growth of other nations, now it is suffering a growing rich-poor gap as a byproduct of its recent growth and rising standard of living. Soon the question came to me: does development always come with a trail of exploitation? What are the ways a community can grow without damaging others? Most importantly, what are the true costs of my current lifestyle? Attempts to answer these questions have led me to form my second goal of seeing the world at a more grounded level. To practice sustainable living without unjustly damaging the lives of others or the environment, I need to remove myself from the comfort and perspective that I have grown-up with, and acquire a different perspective to view the world.
To me, gaining a different perspective means analyzing problems without a concrete solution that is set up by the 16 years formal schooling. Pushing further, gaining a different perspective would be to live with the physical consequences of environmental destruction, rather than to read about it in the newspapers. Finally, I feel that at my age I can change my worldview in without the need to reconcile with a life already established back in the United States.
It can be safely presumed that sometimes guilt drowns gratitude when I look at my life, and perhaps my biggest struggle will be “recognize that I will be perceived as a representative of the United States of America.” I often forget that I am educated and raised in the United States and that despite my love for China and feeling culturally disconnected from the US, all my opinions are still formed from my American context. When abroad, I am sure the reasons to be grateful for my American life will be more blatant than ever. Afterwards, when I kneel down to thank the shoulders I stand on, I hope to be able to perceive every pair of shoulders stacked below—all the way to the humble ground.
The final kneeling scene! One of the only moments I actually remembered from Da Vinci Code. It popped into my head as I was writing and I feel like both the reaching the bottom truth, and the seemingly innocent kneel both synced with my thoughts.