I know I said my next post would be about our living space but something came up – Ethics class, which reminded me of several recent conversations I have had with a few people – about things you may be aware of, and things you may not. I guess this is a sort of disclaimer (before I very excitedly post about our place after all we’ve been through) saying that I truly realize how blessed I am in life – having a place to rest my head, security, food… (and other more intangible aspects) what might seem like simple things that we either choose to believe most people in the world have, or really, we know that many people do not always get to experience some of these “simple” things. Basically,

We don’t always know or remember how good we have it.

I don’t ever want to forget the people and events in my life that have brought me to this point, and myself for making decisions – those defining moments that lead me to where I am now. Mentally and intellectively (teachers, professors, friends, parents and the list goes on), financially and security-wise (mostly my parents), and about love, loyalty, friendship, and everything in between… and hope, and faith.  I had a conversation with Olga the other day that started with her telling me how back in Mexico, her boyfriend hired 15 Mariachis to go perform and sing to her underneath her window at midnight on her birthday… isn’t that so romantic? =)  Mmmm…  yes, but then we started talking about something very disturbing to me. She told me how the Mexican president had been cracking down on drug cartels for years, and the governor of Chihuahua (where Olga is from) had always given permission to one drug cartel to sell their drugs in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. However, recently he gave permission to one more, which has created a war. Seriously, didn’t he see that this would happen? Even I could see that would inevitably come to pass – just look at history. Well, in this drug war, everyday people who are not even involved in any of that business have been shot (wounded or killed) in the gunfire out on streets where there are supermarkets because the ones shooting at the other cartel missed and hit innocent civilians- she said that all that is done about it when they realize they shot the wrong person is “oh, it wasn’t them. oh well.” She said it’s terrifying to be caught near that situation- of course it is! It’s horrible, to live in such a place where your security is compromised because of the constant drug wars, and you don’t even know if when you wake up in the morning to go out that you will be safe. I know that this can happen anywhere, that you could die that day for any reason, and there are even worse situations to be in… but wow.  Then we started talking about summer jobs, and I mentioned that I worked for Ironbridge for $5.85 an hour plus tips and that I knew it wasn’t much but I wasn’t really doing it for the money. Which sounded pretty lame on my part when she then said to me “Do you know that the average wage for a worker in Mexico is roughly 7 dollars (like 70 Pesos) – for one day of work. And they have to feed themselves, or their family, pay rent, and find transportation all on that 7 dollars a day.” You know, being here I have met a lot of people from around the world and despite all their differences and cultural backgrounds, they can still agree on one thing:  Americans are ignorant.  Last year in my World Regions class, the professor John Boyer (Boyer as we call him) said something that makes even more sense today for me as it did then: “The reason why a lot of people in the world hate Americans is because we don’t realize why they hate us.” Most of us don’t know how good we have it, and many of us don’t care or don’t know about others around the world and their situations. To Americans, ignorance is bliss – that we sit up on our pedestals in our own little world. It is a pretty interesting (bad interesting) feeling that comes over me when people from all different parts of the world meet me, ask me where I am from, and as soon as I say “The United States,” they say “Oh.” and it feels like judgement has just been passed. Wow. That’s a bit unfair isn’t it? Not everyone is like this image they have of us, this stereotype. But I wonder if we can even call it that anymore. Critically looking at us as a nation, we are just recently really starting to care more about the environment. Half of the stuff we aquire ends up in landfills – we are never truly satisfied, it seems. We just want more and more. My Ethics professor told me ( I was late for class cause the bus came early!) and she caught me up on what they had gone through before I got there and added some to it) that at the conference she was at last week for several large companies from around the world, 2 were from the United States and she asked the question “What has your company done towards going green? And one of them actually said “Well it’s bad for business – going through all those new environmental regulations is a pain and takes up a lot of our time and resources.” The other American came up to her later and said that he wanted her to help his company get started on becoming “greener.” Which is good, and the reason for this 58-year old businessman’s sudden shift of goals was all because he had realized that his 2-year old grand-daughter would be growing up in 2050: If we (Americans) carry on like this and keep abusing the world we live in, by 2050 we will need 10 worlds to accomodate the way we live our lives, and Europe will need 3… yet, we only have one. There is an interesting-looking book on this subject that I plan to read called “Just One World.” by D. Mark Smith.  Yeah, one thing I noticed when I came here is that Europeans seem to be a lot more “green” – you know how in IKEA they make you pay for one of their synthetic/recycled bags to put all your purchases in and you thought that was unfair? Well they are doing it for sustainability, and every big company in Europe does it. (You probably noticed that IKEA is a Swedish company no doubt?) They do it so that you will bring back your purchased bag and use it again and again – and it works. Carrefour does it and whenever I get on the bus I see so many people carrying a carrefour bag to use to put their groceries into.  Also, what’s pretty cool at the Heathrow Airport in London is that they had been having a problem with smaller birds getting caught in the aeroplane engines and doing damage to them, and they had been trying to fix the problem in the past by using poison. Now though, they have a woman who sends out a falcon before the planes go out and it flies over the area, marking the territory so that the smaller birds stay away and they don’t have to use poison, or kill the birds. Just so you know, there are some pretty nonsensical things that Europeans do too, for instance: I figured out why when coming in to the Nice Aeroport down from London we had to make a really wide circle in the air before landing. It’s because there are 14 houses harboring very wealthy residents who pay the airlines to not take the shortest route by flying over their houses in Antibes (because the plane makes too much noise), thus spending 5 more minutes in flight than necessary – and considering how many flights come into Nice Aeroport, that is a pretty decent amount of extra pollution added into the air. It’s all actually pretty fascinating to me – which is why I decided to drop my organizational behavior course (the curriculum was way too similar to the intro to marketing class I took 2 years ago) and take “Introduction to International Relations.” The guy says everything in English, and then says it all again in French, and switches it up a bit. Hahaha – but the first class was pretty interesting – a little world history with a small dose of politics to get us going. Thanks for listening, and don’t worry I am not becoming anti-American – I am just saying part of what I see. But there are many things that I love about the United States, such as the freedom that we and those before us have worked so hard to aquire and maintain… it is really such a beautiful thing. We do try send our troops around the world to try to help other nations and promote the same freedom we enjoy in our own country. And I don’t care what anybody says- we are united. I have seen people come together when it matters the most to help those around them both from the person inside the situation and also the one seeing it from the outside. My friends and I were in a serious car accident a few summers ago and one of the things that I remember most because it amazed me was that everyone surrounding the area ran over and out of their houses to help us. They collectively used a big wooden pole to prop up the car (which was on its side) and they pulled us out. I am very thankful that people acted like I hoped they would, when it mattered the most. The other time when humankind amazed me was when I was in Maryland with someone close to me one summer ago, we were driving on a smaller road when we came to a slow pace because of a car accident, and when traffic moved to be right near it, we could see many people all trying to help – the person was still inside the car but the car door was stuck, and we watched a man pull off the door with just his bare hands I believe in an adrenaline rush. It really moved me – partially because I had also been in an accident but mostly of the intensity and will of mankind to act, and to protect. My friend commented that if he were a superhero looking down on this scene, of normal citizens acting with such intensity to help others in such distress, he would smile. I know you did not know that when you started reading this, it would become so deep – or maybe you did expect it and I hope you take something from it.

Oh – the reason why my Ethics class smells like a Hollister store is because almost half the people in my class are undergraduate (try Freshmen) girls from American University. They are pretty annoying actually… so I only know one awesome girl who is going to that school right now, but she’s a grad student so maybe that’s partially why the difference. =)