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Photo by Tom Pablo, South America Semester.

Confronting Privilege

Our instructors warned us that going into our homestays we might recieve questions that make us uncomforatble. When Elly told us that a host sibiling might ask us how much college in the US costs we would not know how to answer. I never thought too much into it. That is until my host mom asked me that exact question. I sat at the dinner table with curious eyes looking at me fumbling over my spanish. At that moment I realized it is especially difficult to speak a foreign language when you feel flustered and uncomforatble. I finally was able to spit out some sentence that evaded the truth. I thought the moment had passed until later I got a question if I agree with Donald Trump that all latinos are bad. Of course, I answered with an outstanding no. Again, I thought the questions that made me squirm in my seat were over. That is until tonight I was asked how much this program costs and if my parents are paying for it. Once again I stumbled over words until I ended up changing the subject.

I never realized how utterly vulnerable one can feel when confronted with the question of privilege. I have grown up knowing that I am extremely blessed with everything my family has been able to provide. But I never realized how much my privilege can make me feel so far away, so distant from someone who I am sitting right next to. I never realized that I could feel embarrassed because of everything I own. I never realized how guilty I could feel about the world I was born into.

I struggle with this feeling of guilt because my struggle with the idea of privilege is completely different than someone who does not know where the next meal will come from, or cannot go to school because they have to support their family. Even my struggle with privilege is privileged. However, this does not change the fact that for the first time in my life, I need to sit with the idea that I can feel ashamed because of everything I have, and that I need to lie to my host family on how much my college education costs because the number is astounding. These are all thoughts that I have no solution for and probably will not for many years to come. We are put in these homestays and we chose to travel long distances to confront these questions. The least I can do is think about it, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.

Until next time.

With love,

Zoe