As my internship comes to an end and the inevitability of returning to my “real life” sinks in I find myself thinking more and more about the disparity between what I, and so many other young adults, consider “real life” and what life in the real world truly is. Thinking about the world outside of my comfortable bubble in Ann Arbor is discouraging, motivating, and incredibly overwhelming. This world outside of mine is filled with injustice, poverty, disaster, disease, heartache, and hundreds of millions of people desperate for help. While New Zealand is generally well off by the worlds standards, being outside of the United States afforded me the opportunity to look from the outside in. From this perspective, I saw how influential the United States and the on-goings of the United States in the world. I learned that after Donald Trump was elected president and hate crimes rose in the United States, similar hate crimes rose an ocean away in New Zealand. I learned that the impoverished pacific islands surrounding New Zealand are hit just as hard, if not harder, by the actions of the U.S. and its citizens and government. There was one day when I found myself speaking with a native Fijian woman who told me about the poverty that engulfed her home country and I remember asking her why I always saw United States news on televisions and she responded, “when the U.S. catches a cold, we sneeze too.” This was an eye-opening moment for me not only about the how the rest of the world lives, but more importantly how my actions as an American citizen have a disproportionately high effect on the lives of people around the world whom I will never meet. It’s a sobering thought.
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