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First World Problems: Reflections in Preparation for Haiti

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First World Problems: Reflections in Preparation for Haiti

As much as I hate to admit it at times… I am a total millennial.

Slow wifi, lack of social media and cold showers are some of my least favorite things. We are all used to these simple luxuries. For instance, when I moved into my apartment in late August this year I was horrified to find that it lacked air conditioning. Exhausted, my spoiled roommates and I would lay down with moist towels on our heads and exclaim how unfortunate our lives were.

Perhaps this blatant awareness of my own selfishness is what made me so nervous as I prepared to head to Haiti for my ABST. ABST, or alternative break service trip, is a travel opportunity offered through Gannon [most over Spring Break].

During this week students immerse themselves in a community in vulnerable situations. Trips range all over the world from Detroit to Africa to India so there are plenty of options.

When I applied for Haiti I half hoped that my application would be denied.

While I was fascinated by the idea of studying a business centered on fair trade called Just Haiti (which is what Haiti’s focus is on) I wasn’t too keen on going to the third world. Now, I am forced to reevaluate my own luxuries. I found myself almost embarrassed as I mentally prepared myself for a week without my cell phone. Ridiculous – I know – but this anxiety is very real. I am almost embarrassed to admit to you how deeply I was concerned about not having access to my email 24/7.

The Center for Social Concerns calls this anxiety our discomfort zone… it’s that area where we have just a certain degree of nervousness that allows us to grow. Despite my concern I can assure myself that I will be okay.

In my heart, I know that a week without my own luxuries will not break me. My group leader has said it best when she stated, “There are people who live like this every day. If they can do it, then we can do it.”

But still this anxiety has left me feeling rather inspired. Of course, we can do it, but being uncomfortable gives us the opportunity to understand the root of our insecurities. This week taught me a lot about reassessing my own priorities. What does it mean to have “first world problems?” What part of my life has led to me becoming so dependent upon simple luxuries such as air conditioning and cell phone service that I can be so ungrateful? And how do these luxuries lead us to fail to relate to other parts of the world?

And when did we start looking at the third world as a place defined by lacking what we have rather than a community that may be able to offer other qualities?

Before my trip – I don’t know these answers, but traveling makes me excited for the opportunity to find out.


Read from this year’s Haiti ABST trip blog here.

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