Globe-trotting reveals truth of why I’m money

Ian Coper is a Weinberg senior. He can be reached at [email protected].

On Elephantine Island, a small island in the Nile River across from the Egyptian town of Aswan, there sits a Nubian village that I stumbled upon during my travels abroad. Immediately I was called over to a small house by a woman who was surrounded by children. We conversed a bit in my broken Arabic and then she popped the question that blew my mind: Would I like to buy one of her children? I later asked a friend if maybe I had misunderstood her. He replied that he had been asked that same reality-jarring question four times.

I returned from my junior year abroad and immediately joined my fellow seniors in the quest for employment. Sitting at my first consulting presentation I had trouble concentrating on what the speaker was saying. I kept having images of the small boy in Swaziland who was being arrested, violently, for stealing six pineapples, and the young girl in Turkey who, with her mother’s consent, tried to prostitute herself to me for $6.

Then there were the Jahalin Bedouin families who, forced off their lands, were now living in shipping containers across from a trash dump. And here I was, actually entertaining the idea of embarking upon an exciting career in consulting or investment banking.

That idea has now been declared clinically dead.

What we as travelers abroad to, for lack of a better term, “Third World” countries fail to realize is that to the local people we are “money,” especially if our ethnicity is Caucasian or East Asian. It does not matter how many student loans we have or that we do not even own our own car. To them, we are money. That is why one desperate woman, fearing for her child’s survival, was willing to offer her to me, knowing that I would be able to give her a better life.

Attending that consulting program that day, I began contemplating why I am “money.” I came up with the following list.

• I was not born with AIDS.

• I lived past age one.

• I knew both my mother and my father.

• I can read and write.

• I was not taken off to serve as a child soldier.

• I was not raped or sexually abused.

• My legs have not been blown off by landmines.

• I can drink my tap water and not get sick.

• I have a roof over my head and clothes on my back.

• I have not lived under military rule or martial law.

• I know where my next meal is coming from.

• I have access to information.

• I have the right to vote.

I appeal to my fellow seniors: Wake up. We do not need to run after that six-figure salary. We are already rich. Instead of joining firms that help the rich get richer, let us use our collective minds and bodies to help the poor live humanely.

By all means, I suggest attending as many of the high-profile employment presentations as we can. For the free food of course. If it is at Norris, I recommend the grilled mushrooms. Like I said, I know where my next meal is coming from.