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Shanty Town Prep

Prior to my trip to India I was told of the horrors of this place; I was warned to not look men in the eye, to not take public transportation, to not expose any skin, and to be prepared to watch people poop in the street. So far, I have looked many men isn't he eyes, basked at the GLORY of their metro (DC could take some pointers, and according to Margaret and Carol, so could London) and did just fine in my Western wear.

Yesterday we had a multiple hour run-down of expectations in the shanty towns and I found multiple elements of this conversation particularly applicable to the US, our interactions abroad, and our terrible, shameful joke of a president. 

The main topic of discussion was the impact we expected to have on the community in which we were volunteering. Basically, Mona (our guide, pictured below) told us that we were a link in the long chain of change, and that progress and change happen over a long period of time (usually a generation). He reinforced the cultural appreciation and acceptance of change and explained that when a country (or individual) comes in and tries to replace existing ways of existence with a different one (albeit a newer, and better one) the changes are dismissed by the community and not upheld. Progressional change must come from the community itself, otherwise it loses it's value. Immediately I thought of Afghanistan and the US role in uprooting the government there. 

Additionally, he touched on the importance of not offering handouts of any kind. Doing this hinders the capitalistic markets that are based on need, and creates a culture that expects, and lives off of, handouts. This is an interesting point to consider when contemplating the US role in disaster recovery, and general aid around the world. I've seen it first hand in Haiti, and he expressed a deep discontent with the cultural acceptance of handouts in Ghana. 

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