In our first night of reflection the term “limited understanding” kept coming up and I know that I was one of the individuals that used this specific phase. I cannot speak on behalf of the whole group’s perspective, but on an individual level I know that before I came to El Salvador I only had the knowledge of what I learned from education meetings or from reading something. Because of this limited understanding I believe in a way my perspective had been crafted for me. Of course I could draw my own conclusions or look at something in a different light but my thoughts were always derived from a secondary source. Without having an experience directly you never can see an entire picture. And I definitely do not believe that by the end of this ASB trip I will be even close to a complete picture, but I believe that I will have a few more pieces filled in allowing me to have a better understanding of poverty.
Going back to that phrase limited understanding I think my understanding of poverty has changed significantly in the two days that we have been here. I never really understood why poverty was perpetuated. But poverty is so much more complex then just money, which I never really had a strong grasp of. For example someone could give an individual a large sum of money but without education that person will run through the money quickly and return to the lifestyle that they were at.
And I think the most important thing I learned about poverty in the two days we have been here is that poverty can be beautiful. Getting the opportunity to interact and be welcomed into the communidad de Las Brisas allowed me to meet individuals and laugh and smile with them. The residents of this community all had this lively, optimistic spirit. Thinking back to my limited understanding of poverty I can recall being taught certain stereotypes of poverty but none of these stereotypes were even close to being true. These welcoming individuals had this level of dignity that I cannot even put into words. Being welcomed into this community really opened my eyes and allowed me to see poverty in a different light.
The fact that I have already knowledge has grown so much in such a short time shows me really how my limited understanding was truly limited. I know that I am no where close to understanding the complexity of poverty but I know this experience has helped me see and recognize things I would not have gotten from reading some text. I came on this trip with the hopes of understanding poverty. I now know I will never be able to understand poverty, but hopefully with every passing day I will gain a new insight I did not have before.