By Amanda Freeman
For a group of people that have so little, they give so much.
Throughout our trip, we talked a lot about poverty and what it really is. We talked about how we, as Americans, define poverty as a lack of money or material possessions, but how it can also be defined as lacking something other than money.
The people of Agora may not have everything they want or need by our standards, but they are filled with happiness. Those with ‘everything’ sometimes do not have this type of happiness – Agora made me think that maybe the people that are unhappy with more money are more impoverished than those with happiness but less money.
In Agora, the people give so much even though, by our standards, they have so little. I expected the village to be quiet, with people working in their houses or on the fields. I expected them to shoo us away when we approached so they could continue their work free of pesky tourists. My expectations were completely wrong.
Walking around the village, you see children playing, fathers working, women in the fields, and cows and water buffalo walking down the tiny mud paths. On these streets, everyone greets each other, even when they are busy with their day-to-day work. It is hard to walk through the village without stopping for a conversation with some of the most interesting people. It takes mere minutes to get invited into a house for a cup of chai, end up dressing in traditional Indian clothing, and begin a deep conversation about life.
In America, this openness would never happen. We wouldn’t invite foreigners into our house at a minute’s notice for a drink of tea and food – and if we ever did, we would be skeptical of their intentions. We would be equally skeptical about walking into a stranger’s house for tea that we met three minutes ago.
In Agora, one does not have to worry about intentions. The intentions of the villagers are pure – the people are kind and curious and they want to help us learn and to learn about our culture. There is a mutual connection between CCS and the people of Agora; we want to help and learn from each other.
At home in Florida, I always have to look over my shoulder for people with bad intentions. My mother reminds me every time I leave the house to lock all the doors, close all the blinds and set the alarm. She reminds me to be safe safe and to always watch out for people with bad intentions. With this routine drilled into my brain, I also constantly look over my shoulder.
In Agora, I didn’t have to worry. The people were more eager to help each other and us than to thrive off of or take advantage of mistakes. Everyone watches out for one another and helps each other.
We should all strive to do the same.