Social Exclusion & Nicaragua Assignment
Social exclusion- a social disadvantage in society which is usually seen from a view of education, politics, and/or economics, and is most commonly expressed in the form of denying access to various rights, opportunities, and resources, to certain groups which thence denies them access to social integration with the other group. Examples of this can be sampled in housing, employment, healthcare, civic engagement, etc.
For me, as a 20 year old white American girl, I see the most prevalent form of social exclusion in my peers in college as well as at a larger scope in poverty in general. Growing up, through movies and television, i've learned how to act "cool", how to dress "cool", and how the food chain in school works. The poor and ugly kids get picked on, and the wealthier pretty kids are self-dubbed popular. That's just how it is. You either sink or you swim. And ever since that lesson, i've been kicking away building up my strength for treading skills. You can let your head go under water when you're with your family or when you make those few and special friends that are close enough to see your weird, silly, ugly and poor side let loose, but when you're in that public swimming pool you better kick as long as your legs will take you. Maybe that's exaggerating, but it's the truth! I've always learned to keep my head held high and not to let others see you fall- it's what gets you past the bullies on the play ground. As i'm growing into a much older version of that girl with those views, i'm experiencing the importance of genuinity and vulnerability with people. Those two things have gotten me much farther than self-righteousness and confidence ever have. Even as someone who has amazing parents with awesome friends and wonderful opportunities, I still have the confidence of a lima bean, so i've learned to use other strengths along the way.
Any-who, even into the beginning of adulthood, in a school no longer full of 7 and 8 year-olds, but of 20 something year olds, you see and experience social exclusion. It's much less than before because luckily now people have grown up enough to know that they don't have to put others in their places so bluntly, (hopefully). I see this in the lunch room at school, you have greek life that takes up the portion of the cafeteria that looks out to the lobby, and if you walk around you can notice the students who eat by themselves, with headphones in and eyes down on their work. It's not that they are better or worse off than someone else, but they are socially excluded from the greek lunch spot. Now don't get me wrong, i'm in a sorority and i know that no one would tell them to move, no one would pick up their tray like a stereotypical jock and make them feel less of a person, but there would be an unspoken confusion and a little uncomfortableness if they were to sit down at the end of a different social groups table.
Social exclusion comes in many ways, shapes, and forms. I think as humans we are in constant competition to create this subconsciously, because a superficial form of ourselves assures us that it feels good to be better or to have more than someone else, and to exclude them from a capability that we've "earned". And how do we measure who should be included and excluded? In the way that we measure poverty for ourselves.
At first glance, we see poverty as a lack of monetary means, which henceforth creates a minute amount of educational resources, smaller housing opportunities, cheaper clothing brands, etc. But as I learned in Nicaragua this past weekend, money isn't always the answer, which can sometimes be counterintuitive to our United States way of thinking.
As we were riding in our seats to a different city of Nicaragua, I turned to our bus guide and I asked him whether Nicaragua was "less-off" than Costa Rica as a country. I was careful to use my words in the least non-respectful way as possible. He turned to me and said, "Oh no, Nicaragua isn't poor at all! We have the richest soil compared with all of the other Latin American countries. Our biodiversity..." And I don't remember much else of what he said because my mind stopped at that point to question whether he heard me right. He heard me right. Money had nothing to do with his opinion on poverty. It was about the resources, and as a country they were thriving now more than ever! I was astonished and blown away at the beauty in this mans words. What a new way to experience life altogether. Imagine, if we stopped looking at monetary goals as a means to get ahead of others, but looked at others for the resources, for the life and genuinity that they bring, for who they really are as individuals.
I know social exclusion is a hard habit to break and isn't something to talk about ridding of lightly, but from what i've experienced here in Costa Rica and in Nicaragua, a persons life is far more worthy than anything they can accumulate for proof or show.