As Lawrence students, we talk about the “Lawrence Bubble” all the time, but we forget about the bigger “United States Bubble” that we also inhabit. The issue of Ebola may have been temporary in our first world country, but that doesn’t mean the issue has ceased to exist.
So yes, the Sierra Leone trip has been moved to Jamaica because the threat of Ebola still exists today in Sierra Leone. In fact, the governmental organization for Disease and Control reported 10,094 total cases of Ebola in the country with 3,049 total deaths as of Saturday, January 10, 2015. In comparison, there have been a total of four cases in the United States with one death as the result of Ebola.
As Lawrentians, we seem to be very concerned with the effect of the potential risk of Ebola on the handful of Lawrentians who had to change their spring break plans. We should take this opportunity to pay more attention to the real worldwide issue at hand, instead of putting all of our focus on the small number of Lawrentians who have been affected.
Luckily, these Lawrence students will still have the opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship, tourism, and more in Jamaica as they apply projects they have created to the local community.
Professor Claudena Skran comments that the group may have been able to return to Sierra Leone in the summer when the threat has decreased. However, the group’s funding is set to expire in June and this had to play a role in her decision. The most important thing was guaranteeing the students the learning experiences that they will gain through this experience.
Jamaica was chosen because of the need that exists there as well. Besides being a beautiful vacation spot with gorgeous beaches, many of the people living there live below the poverty line. According to The World Bank’s data, 17.6% of the population living in Jamaica today are at the poverty line. In contrast, the Gross National Income in Jamaica as of 2013 was at $5,220.
It is important to leave the “Lawrence Bubble” every now and then. This means more than looking at national and state politics. Many things are happening in the world around us outside of our friend group, college, community, and nation.
Ebola is still a problem threatening the lives of thousands worldwide. Many countries, including Jamaica, house populations of people who lack the resources that we have come to take advantage of in our day to day lives. Looking past our personal and friend’s issues is a valuable trait to have.
The students going on this trip are doing just that. They will be broadening their horizons while making a difference in another country. What are you doing with your spring break?