Travel and Privilege

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Košice, Slovakia
5:28 a.m.
Tuesday June 10, 2014
I could begin this post with clichés about the journey being better than the destination and about how wanderers must lose their way to achieve fulfillment, but I’ll spare you the scrolling. You’ve heard it. Instead, I’m going to talk about privilege.

Now privilege is a buzz word in most social justice conversations that gets thrown around with terms like sustainability and globalization. I’m not trying to start a new debate, just record a few of my feelings coming to Slovakia to work with the Roma people.Privilege. Where do I begin?

In the States, since I  belong to the upper-middle class and am a white girl with a stable family life, I’ve had certain privileges. I’m not trying to glorify nor demonize who I am just write truth. In Slovakia, I don’t necessarily have as much privilege from being white as I do from being an American from the United States.  As my supervisor said, “they’ll let you get away with certain things because you’re American.” Since it’s barely my first day I haven’t quite found out what those things are, but I’ll keep you updated.

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I also possess the privilege of an “observer effect.” I get to experience Eastern Europe with a fresh perspective. I’m allowed to enter a country that a month ago I couldn’t find on a map, take photographs, interview anyone who might know a little English and form conclusions based on my quick judgments. I might talk about what needs to be done to fix the education system or why some people are begging in the streets when they should be looking for work, as if I am the cultural expert.

It’s my privilege to be able to form these conclusions, not my right. I can only give you a  glimpse into the history, struggles, celebrations and faith of this place and these people. It is a small window and it is–and never will be– the full story.

Please read what I write and look at the images I take with a working mind and a healthy, questioning doubt. Also please remember as a millennial from rural Texas, I really don’t know jacksquat about Eastern Europe or the Romani people.

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However, this is what travel is for: to learn, to ask, to gain understanding and tell a different story while trying to come to terms with your own. I’m here. I’m privileged to be here, to share with you what I learn and try to connect with the culture in a positive way.
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