May 9, 2009

The Genius of an Orange Peel

My good friend Jess recently returned from a time of service at an orphanage in Honduras. The program is intriguing in the sense that the children are not put up for adoption but rather cared for by the institution and its staff until they are of age. The philosophy is that it's better to keep constant the environment of the children and raise them as one family. Jess is an incredibly kind and gentle woman, who is a wonderful teacher and caregiver to young people. I know she misses the children greatly. She spoke about them with such tenderness during our recent lunch/life chat. We began to discuss the differences between US and Honduran culture, one particular contrast being in the types of toys kids found in each society. She described seeing some of the kids in Honduras being perfectly content to play jacks with orange peels and rocks. I began to think about all the toys that I was given as a child, the countless Barbies, board games, and bikes. So much and yet, it sounded like these children were having just as much fun, if not more, than I did with countless playtime options. American culture began to feel gross, pregnant with the gluttony of our materialism. When I lived abroad that topic always came up in conversation and my face burned with embarrassment over the lifestyle of my fellow Americans. I pledge to not cater to the establishment, but rather apply my own beliefs to my buying habits and that of my family. My hope is that I can stem the flow of toys into my own home for my future kids so that they appreciate what they have, small amounts of meaningful, well-made (and locally-made) toys.

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