YCI’s Summer Student Sign-Off

It is here! August has arrived and with it comes the end of my placement here at YCI.

I am so thankful for having had the opportunity to work here over these past several weeks. As is always the case, I have learned more than I have taught and have been impacted more than I ever thought I would be. These seven weeks have amalgamated into an amazing learning journey. . .though, not comparable to that of Bedouin desert travels or Uigur treks, I am thankful for the voyage.

And this journey has provided me the time to think about the rewards and challenges of “development” work.

Of course, I don’t imagine anyone is particularly interested in my musings, so I will sign off with just a few excerpts that find deep resonance in my heart and that I hope, will encourage you think about international development through a different perspective.

When asked about his take on international aid and its impacts, here are some segments of Dr. Paul Farmer’s thoughts on the subject: “I am humbled by the suffering of the destitute sick and also by human rights abuses as conventional defined. These also affect primarily the poor.”

Our society prompts a “constant interrogation: how is this – [what I am doing and how I am living] – relevant to the suffering of the poor and to the relief of that suffering?” Scholarship – [across virtually all disciplines] – is not always readily yoked to the service of the poor. There is an urgent need “to resocialize our understanding of who becomes sick and why, and of who has access to health care and why. We also need to resocialize our understanding of human rights abuses.”

Ultimately, Farmer writes, “just as the poor are more likely to fall sick and then be denied access to care, so too are they more likely to be the victims of human rights abuses, no matter how these are defined.”

So while I am always inclined to encourage students to participate in international development because I know it to be a transformative experience (which, it wholly is), it is much more than that. It is an opportunity to interrogate the ways in which we live and prioritize our lives. It is just as much of an opportunity to reach out to others as it is to reach inwards.

How can you help?

-Stacy Topouzova, 2010 Summer Student


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