Winthrop U Student looks at #FirstWorldProblems differently after trip

Lauren in Guatemala.

This guest post is brought to you by Lauren Miller, a sophomore at Winthrop University and one of seven students who traveled with Kelly Campbell of the Village Experience and me to Guatemala. I’m not sure Lauren ever stops smiling. She studies biology and is interested in environmental science, so she was our resident Jack Hannah.

By Lauren Miller

#firstworldproblems are just getting out of hand it would seem. We have it so hard. Our chargers are never where we need them, there is never good food in the pantry, and our houses are so big we need two wireless routers.

Now if we look at #thirdworldproblems we will see that we are a spoiled society. After traveling to Guatemala and visiting some very poor areas, it is easy to realize that first world problems should not be a popular topic on social media sites like twitter or pinterest.

“My laptop is dying but the charger is in the other room.”

In the city of Ceylon, Guatemala, most people do not have electricity or if they do they are haphazardly connected to the electrical lines. Even those with electricity only have a light on if absolutely necessary. They don’t have outlets to plug in their newest electronic, but rather a single bulb to light their rooms. We have the habits to leave lights on when we leave a room, leave electronics plugged in when not in use, and we never give it a second thought. If we, with out first world problems, were forced to live like those of Ceylon, we would have a hard time. It takes a strong will that those of us in first world countries do not possess.

“Everything in the fridge takes more than 3 minutes to make… Now I have to go hungry.”

We go to our pantry and fridge and cannot find anything we like. We then lower our expectations until something is worthy. We eat out, we throw away food we don’t eat, and we over eat because we can. The people of Guatemala don’t have that option. Families kick out their elderly relatives because they can no longer contribute to the family. Non-profit “Vamos Adelante” provides food for the elderly of Ceylon. These people live next door to their children who have nothing to do with them. “Vamos Adelante” also has an eating program for children at the school who have nothing to eat during the school day. Being picky is not an option in the poor villages of Guatemala. They don’t have pantries that they can go to with many food options. They have a diet consisting of mainly rice, beans, and tortillas. We as American’s don’t usually eat the same thing two nights in a row and leftovers are thrown away. There aren’t leftovers in Guatemala and variety is non-existent.

“I hate that my house is so big I need two wireless routers.”

Most people in first world countries have more space than they need. Everyone needs his or her own bedroom and bathroom. Everyone needs his or her personal space and everyone needs storage for ‘stuff’. Most households in Guatemala are one room, maybe two. We visited a family where 8 people were living in a one-room house. The floors are dirt, the ceiling is tin; space is used to the maximum. America’s poor are nothing compared to the poor of Guatemala.

A lot of the time I don’t realize how lucky I am to have my own room. I will never complain about the dinner my mom prepares for me. I will never take for granted the constant electricity I have access to.

After this trip to Guatemala, I am learning to not take things for granted. I hope people will realize that no first world problem is a problem; it is a blessing.

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