Sometimes it is hard to find the relatively in our happiness, in our hunger. #clemsonmoments

It was just last night and I was overhearing a conversation, someone sharing how hungry they were while watching a ballgame. As I sat and listened to the conversation, I began to become overwhelmed with annoyance. I was trying to figure out what bothered me about this person’s diatribe.

Then it hit me…I was thinking about Tito and his friends. I need to step back and qualify this assessment, reminding myself of what I shared the first night with the group in Haiti; I was sharing an opinion about happiness. I was sharing our happiness is just as relevant as the Haitian’s happiness, this feeling of happiness is relative to our contextual situation.

Thinking about that conversation of hunger, I am reminded that our American context of hunger is different than hunger in developing countries. Our happiness is different than the happiness in developing countries; but this evening it did not feel relative.

This moment in time, I resisted my cultural knowledge, the similarities and differences between our home and their home. I viewed them as one in the same, I could not help it. All I could hear was white privilege, entitlement, the demanding voice of pizza because the game was taking too long. This voice demanding pizza compared to the rumble of this little boy’s tummy as we climbed 600 feet to the top of the mountain; a climb that took us through the roughest of terraine.

Our group unloaded our back packs with our food to make sure this boy had a meal. Many of the Clemson students gave up their water bottles so this little boy could have clean water to drink. These Clemson Engineers pulled their money together to buy the little boy new shoes because the flip-flops he wore as we climbed the mountain found huge holes in the bottom. This little boy who gave the warmest hugs, held your hand, and checked on each of the group to make sure they were oaky while climbing this mountain; this little boy’s tummy rumbled.

I sat and thought about Tito’s empathy, his willingness to give, his willingness to share, his desire to be a part of something bigger, his desire to connect with these Clemson Engineers. I thought about Tito as this person was complaining of hunger while calling a baseball game, a Clemson baseball game, asking people on Twitter to bring him a pizza because the game was going into to extra innings. I heard his voice and thought about the sounds of Tito’s tummy, the holes in Tito’s flip flops; and tried to remind myself it is relative. It just did not feel relative.

But the one thing that brings me hope, that brings me pride, that reminds me of the bigger picture; the work of Clemson Engineers bringing clean water to Tito’s village. This clean water is the economic driver providing food, jobs, education, and healthy outcomes. This clean water gives me hope, that it will become the economic engine to help solve the food problems in Cange, Haiti.

These distinctions and the understand of this relativity provides this Clemson grad a sense that one day, we will not have to make these comparisons…thanks to the determined spirt of these Clemson Engineers.

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