Gringos (Part 1)

These young people from Western countries do something called “taking time off.” They go on a trip after college. They backpack it. They ride a bicycle loaded with panniers. They call it ‘adventure’. They call it ‘risk taking.’ They have a book that tells them where to go and where to drink beer with other adventurers and where to eat and where to stay.
They save up money for this trip. Some of them ask people and companies for donations and to sponsor them on their great adventure. Some pledge to travel on their adventure in the name of a cause such as “ending breast cancer” or “curing AIDS.” Some ask companies to give them free backpacks or bicycles or bicycle panniers and tents and other gear so that they might advertise for them.
Many of these young Western people do a few weeks of volunteer work or take some language classes in these poor, under-developed foreign countries. Then they return to Europe or the USA. They put this adventure on their resume and when they are called for job interviews they are excited to talk about it. This trip changed them. They are a new person now. They should be hired instead of other job candidates who have not taken such trips. This trip has been the difference to everything, they say. They have seen poverty and poverty moved them. This trip has uniquely qualified them for the position.
When they learned to speak a few words of the local language they learned things from these people. These people were poor but insisted on giving them food and giving them shelter. These people are poor but gave them things! With this knowledge I will be a better associate at your company, they say. In five years time I see myself here, advancing professionally, sacrificing for this great firm, they say. In ten years too. I have seen and helped the poor and I am ready to work now, ready to improve this company, to be an associate to the middle manager, and my adventures among the world’s poor has been the ideal preparation for this task.

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