This week, Dr. Wayne Baker welcomes world-traveler, communicator and educator Gayle Campbell to share with us some “world-changing truths” she learned during her year teaching in the mountains of rural Honduras. Here is Gayle’s first column in this series …
“Third world.” What comes to your mind when you hear that phrase? People who need to be “fixed” or communities that need to be “cured”? Hotbeds of terrorists? Poor, raggedy-clothed people waiting for the West to come to their rescue? What do most people you know think when they hear that phrase?
Today on OurValues.org, we’re exploring the actuality of the lives of the millions of people living in lands often called “third world.” Citizens of the “less developed countries” are defined as those with low income, weak human resources, and high economic vulnerability.
But here’s the provocative question I want you to think about today: Is it possible that, even in the most modest of places, happy community and creative vitality exist? I just returned from a year-long teaching stint in rural Honduras, where reliable electricity, and regular running, clean water were rare. The best-stocked grocery store was 3 hours away by unpaved roads in a bumpy school bus. But despite the simplicity in the day-to-day of this town, the joy of those who lived there was palpable.
A student of mine who lived in a 2-room mud-hut with five of her family members was one of my most joyful. Why? Her family was together, her soccer field was green, and her friends were all within walking distance. Sometimes, it really is the simple things that make you happy.
Now, this isn’t to dismiss the fact that there are real problems that exist in the third world. Between lack of access to education, clean water, health services, basic financial resources, and much more, life is often far from carefree. But who better understands this than those who have lived there their whole life? Those whose parents, grandparents and many more generations have lived in and with these problems? More than any Western do-gooder, it is citizens of these undeveloped countries who want to find solutions to the problems they encounter on a daily basis. It would do the West well to remember this.
We should realize that we can share with these people in solutions, and not just regard them as a danger or a need to be fixed.
So, what do you think about this truth I’m raising today?
If you’ve traveled to developing countries, what have you encountered?
How do you think we should help solve third-world problems?
NOTE ON OUR GUEST WRITER: Long-time readers of OurValues may recall that Gayle Campbell once was Media Director of the online project. She returns occasionally to share with us from her global travels. At this point, she has traveled in more than 20 countries, including work along the way. Her most recent stint had her teaching 5th grade in the mountains of rural Honduras.
NOTE ON THE PHOTO TODAY: The photo, above, was taken in a village on Easter Island, off the coast of Chile. Although far from my village in Honduras, it conveys the spirit of children even in modest villages especially when it comes to their local “football” field.
Add your Comment below.
Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an experiment in civil dialogue about American values.