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“Can we move tables? I’m in the sun, and I’m sweating.”

“This wifi is so slow. It always stops working.”

“We have to work 6 days a week!?”

“I’m tired of having rice every day.”

“This service sucks. They can’t get my order right.”

“There’s literally nothing to do here.”

“We have to get up so early for class.”
“These kids are being so crazy.”

“Why are we sewing for 7 hours in a sweaty room?”

“My water wasn’t hot today”

“I’m done trying to learn this language.”

Yes. All of these quotes have been said throughout our program.

Here’s my take on privilege. All Duke students have it. And we all need a wake up call. No, not all of us grew up in high class families where everything was done for us and we could get whatever we wanted at the snap of a finger. Yes, we have all worked hard to get here. But we are all, to some extent, spoiled.

DukeEngage is a learning experience on many levels. We have been given the opportunity to help children, learn a new language and culture, use our resources to better the centers we are working at, work in a team, and gain experience at a full time job.

But what I think our program needs to do is increase our consciousness on the little inconveniences and choose our battles wisely. We need to pick our heads up out of out of our phones and learn a few things from the people we drive by on the way to work, the hospitality, or “morabeza” of the locals, and every director, intern, teacher, and child at the centers. Our daily “struggles” are so menial compared to the meaningful battles some of the Cabo Verdeans are facing every day. I so badly want to remind my friends on the program, “You’re upset about the wifi? The laundry? The waiters messing up your order? Do you see the dilapidated homes and children begging us for money on the street? Did you hear that this country has been in a drought for 3 years?” And trust me, I think these things, too. But I am actively reminding myself that these little things don’t matter in comparison to the real life challenges that exist in Cabo Verde. We’re supposed to be here to learn and grow as people, to realize that the opportunities we’ve been given at Duke and in our home countries are rare and we sometimes take them for granted. It’s just so hard to think about it when the person sitting next to me at breakfast can’t stop talking about her first world problems.