Friday, July 10, 2009

Thoughts After Reading THE END OF POVERTY by Jeffrey Sachs

In an earlier blog I said that I wanted to read a book a week after graduating.  I haven't quite kept up with that, but The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs is my seventh book of the summer, so I think I'm doing ok.

This book was the perfect book for me to read right now, as a recent college graduate who is trying to decide what to accomplish in my lifetime.  I just received my BFA (diploma in the mail last week) in modern dance and about a year ago decided that I wanted to stay in school and earn a second degree in nursing.  Originally my motivation for this degree was because I wanted to be able to earn a living while trying to make it as a dancer.  Having been a dance major, I'm a firm believer in doing what you love in life because I think if you do what you love you will always find a way to be successful and happy.  I have been hesitant about my decision to go to nursing school because I never considered that as a career in my life - but I have been dancing for the last 18 years and it is so a part of who I am.  I identify myself as a dancer.

I was discussing this with some of my closest dance friends yesterday.  I realized it probably isn't the best plan to identify solely as a dancer (as I have throughout a good portion of my life) because it makes you forget all the other aspects of who you are.  So many times I've been introduced as "This is Sara... she's a dancer..."  when I would rather be introduced as a friend, sister, girlfriend, etc.   I have to admit, I don't feel like I should have a college degree. (I earned it- I often spent 8-12 hours a day devoted to dance!)  I can tell you anything you want to know about dance, but I feel like I still have a lot to learn about life.  Honestly, having grown up in the International Baccalaureate Program, I miss academics and classes I had to read a lot for and study a lot for where I learned about the Cold War instead of Martha Graham.  

This feeling helps to reaffirm my decision to get a second degree.  I also realized that nursing was something I could enjoy doing after spending a week in the hospital in December (I was fine, but my mother had massive brain surgery- GO MOM!)  I wasn't even a patient and that experience was terrifying.  All of her doctors were nice, but ultimately they were really busy and just there to get the job done.  The nursing staff was what made that experience bearable.  I would hope that I could do the same for someone who was in my family's situation someday.

The book The End of Poverty also had me jumping at the chance to get a nursing degree.  A good portion of the book discussed the need for economic change and more monetary aid (I will never be an expert economist or have riches to donate...), but it also discussed the need for healthcare in areas with extreme poverty, especially in Africa.  After my travels to Ghana - I already have a soft spot in my heart for Africa.  Sachs discussed how the spread of malaria and the HIV/AIDS epidemic are detrimental to the communities in Africa because they cause such a massive number of deaths.  The saddest part is that both malaria and HIV/AIDS are treatable - most of Africa just doesn't have access to medical care or the drugs they need so malaria can turn into a death sentence amazingly quickly.  When I was in Ghana the two youngest girls in my host family both were sick with Malaria.  BUT - the village of DzoDze has a hospital and my family has enough money to pay for the medicine.  Many families in Africa are not so lucky.  What if my host family's business begins to suffer?  The next time those beautiful little girls get malaria, will they be able to be treated?  Many areas of Africa just need someone who has a basic medical knowledge.  That could be me...
If you look really hard... you can see me in this picture... on my trip to Ghana!

Overall, I think everyone should read The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs.  It was very informative and motivating.  At the end of the book, Sachs quotes Robert Kennedy (I LOVE Robert Kennedy)...

Let no one be discouraged by the belief that there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world's ills - against misery and ignorance, injustice  and violence . . . Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation . . .

It is from the numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped.  Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

No comments:

Post a Comment