Upon returning form our Nicaragua study trip, students divided up into their classes, based on the concentration of their choice: International Business, Advanced Language and Literature, and Latin American Studies. This a reflection shared from one of our business students, Vanessa Herrera, from Northwest University. Students will leave on Monday for their Community Immersion Experiences.
Wrestling with the issue of poverty is a very new practice for me. I grew up in a small-town of 1,000 people in eastern Oregon. My family did not start out middle-class, but they worked their way up long enough to have what we have now. I’ve seen so many people, including my parents, increase their quality of life by working hard. I assumed everyone could do the same. Then, to also think that the processes and systems I am studying are the causes of so much poverty around the world is another thing to wrestle with, as well. The readings in the International Business Concentration have brought me out of the ignorance I was in before, which is always uncomfortable. This was no exception. However, I have learned to take these kinds of experiences as opportunities to think differently about the world and my impact on it.
I used to romanticize the idea of ending poverty as just giving them a few key resources and letting them take care of the rest. People have all these theories on why these countries are as poor as they are, without any admittance that some of them just are not, or were not, as lucky. Some of these people are simply facing the negative consequences of their country’s history and living in areas that are perfect for a lot of bad things. One article that I read gave the example of some sub-Saharan African countries suffering for malaria because they are the perfect environment for malaria-infested mosquitoes. They do not have the resources to fight against the bad luck they were born with.
I am the consequence of some luck too. I am living with the consequences of my country’s history, which came at the expense of these other countries' suffering. I got a hand of good luck, just like most of the poor got their hand of bad luck. As a Christian, I do not think this is for nothing. I cannot help that I was born where I was, when I was; but, I can help people who cannot help themselves just because they were born where they were, at the time that they were. I especially believe that business can play such a vital role in this effect.
Business sustains. Business brings people to people. Business can play the role of networking people with resources, like me, to people with a lack of resources in a practical manner. The reality for most people is that the more distance there is between people and social issues, the less they care. The reason I never gave a second thought to poverty was because I had never seen the reality of it, and it did not pertain to me directly. I am thinking of poverty and development differently, and I can bring these new ways of thinking of success into whatever career I choose. People get so caught up in their career and being successful in the way the market defines success that they lose who they are in the process. They lose their sense of humanity. It’s important to be people of character, through our words and actions. I am going to be that person in all aspects of my personal and professional life- business, school, church- with this new perspective in hopes of bringing other people to re-evaluate these so-called truths we have been taught.