More of a Contrast than a Comparison

It’s been great working with some of the community partners in Gettysburg this summer. I have had the chance to get to know individuals and organizations that would otherwise be unknown to me. It’s pretty easy to just be a student at Gettysburg College and not really get to know the people of Gettysburg, let alone the people of Adams county or many of the underprivileged members of the community. Forming a connection with kids, farmers, and migrants is beneficial to both parties as we all have so much to learn from each other. These interactions have allowed me to learn more about the struggles these groups and individuals face.

But, it feels wrong to complain about my struggles which often pale in comparison to what some of the fellows abroad have dealt with. It feels almost self-centered to write about not fitting in with Middle School and High School soccer players or to be frustrated when a kid cries while fellows in Kenya spend time with a 9-year-old girl that was impregnated by her father. It’s petty to be concerned with the fact that my lesson plan on the 2016 election wasn’t chosen when teachers in Nicaragua can be obstructive and classes in Nepal can be canceled because of a protest. Even recreational activities pose more of a challenge abroad as there is the danger of having your personal items stolen, getting lost, getting left behind, or becoming sick. But here I complain about just the opposite – that it’s too boring. It’s almost disingenuous to write about the struggles I have had when there are other fellows writing about and living through hardships that are, well, actually hard.

None of this is to say that the problems I or anyone else in the Gettysburg program wrote about aren’t real or that they don’t matter. Nor is this a criticism of anyone writing about difficulties they had. There are many serious issues in Adams county that center around racial, financial, and gender inequality. Every person and group has issues and challenges to overcome. It is important that kids learn over summer and people should have access to fresh produce. But there is a figurative hierarchy for problems – and some are just more significant than others.

It easy to focus only on the events within our own “bubble”. But it’s crucial to realize that everyone has a “bubble”, whether is Gettysburg College, Adams county, the US, or even a nice community in an underdeveloped country. What is and what isn’t a problem changes depending upon the contexts in which it occurs I suppose. 

Nate Kumar ’17
Gettysburg, PA