I was raised in Hermiston, OR. It is a small town with a population of about 16,000 citizens. My parents are from a small village in Mexico and arrived here in their late teens. My community is economically stable. Growing up here I’ve never seen poverty. At the age of 15 I was fortunate enough to travel to Jesus Maria where my family is from. However this wonderful experience gave me an insight into the complexity of the human condition.
â–º Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
I learned that material wealth differs from culture to culture. In the American culture soccer scrimmages become a fashion shown. Players are more concerned about their appearance then their style of play. Looks are deceiving. The athletes with expensive glamorous Nikes and the expensive sports team jersey tend not to play so well because they are not focused on the game. Rather they are more concerned about looking pretty in their attire.
Down in Mexico soccer is free from the pressure to have all the latest gear. The thought of nice uniforms never enters the players mind. I was sitting on some nearby bleachers while a pickup game was going on. Players didn’t need fancy cleats and brand name shorts but they also couldn’t afford these materials. Instead they wore sandals and jeans. Their material wealth is a hard nylon soccer ball because it ignites the game. They were content with only having one soccer ball.
Yet despite lacking all the material wealth, these athletes played hard because it was all or nothing. If they lost the ball quickly they fought back for it. They ran the opponent down until the ball was won back. This is something that is not seen in American youth because they lack the drive and the players are not satisfied without having the nicest pair of shoes and gear.
However I saw the dark side of poverty. While these scrimmages are going on, young children roam the streets. I was at a food stand buying a hamburger, and a young indigenous boy walked by glaring in my direction. As he approached me he said, me das, meaning can I have some? I was shocked. He was asking for a bite, a single bite of my small hamburger not the entire burger. I bought him a meal and words would not float from my mouth as we waited for it. Thoughts about asking him questions entered my mind, but the correct words didn’t. I was too caught up in the moment that children in my village and all around the world were starving.
I also learned that the Mexican Drug War is beginning to reach many aspects of life and causing damage. At first cartel gang members began using the main highway that runs through the village for commuting purposes. Slowly they became in contact with the villagers. The members drove around causing trouble. Once they stole a random civilian’s truck, went driving in it and eventually got rid of it by leaving it somewhere. In Mexico and in the village people are living in constant fear because of the war. And if the war reached my village, it will reach many more.
By becoming an educator one day, I will be able assist in student traveling programs. I would like to become a history teacher to not only educate but to travel the world with students. I was fortunate enough to have family in Mexico which gave me a reason to travel. Taking students on traveling tours will give them an opportunity to opening their eyes into the complexity of the human condition.
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