BY KIRA TEBBE
The leaders of my gap year program had heard about a nearby refugee camp. There were Burmese citizens who had fled to the border of Burma and China, where crossing the river would bring them into China. We timed our visit with a global health organization, who was there for regular vaccinations. We had bought as many toys, books, and school supplies as we could afford and went for the afternoon. The entire village was warm and friendly. We played soccer with the children and spoke with the English teacher there. The children loved seeing photos of themselves that we had taken, with reactions varying from gleeful giggling to intense concentration. One student interviewed many of the village elders about the political situation, which was more precarious than they would like the children to know. The medical staff there handled all of the inoculations themselves, with both us and the children watching on curiously. What struck me the most was seemingly innocent – many children there had runny noses but never blew them. Amid political turmoil and serious medical threats, something as inconsequential as a runny nose was discarded, whereas in the US it would be considered a nuisance and constantly blown. Out of everything I saw on my visit, that small detail struck me the most.
Kira Tebbe is a senior in Pierson College. She is double majoring in Sociology and Applied Mathematics and is from Chicago, Illinois. She can be contacted at email@example.com.