Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Two weeks before Christmas, there is a flyer attached to my door. How Charming! It is an advertisement for a Christmas-Parent-Day-Off. For one day only, a group of young women will babysit children so the parents can shop and wrap. For a minimal fee, the girls will entertain, feed and care for the little ones.

I recognize the name of one of the advertisers. She is in my Winterim Ecuador trip. I knew she had to pay for her excursion, I just didn't know this was one of her resources. I had previously heard she was selling chalk boards and cards. When I inquire of her further, I find she's been raising money for two years to participate in a travel winterim. Last year, Costa Rica was just out of her reach, but it gave her a fiscal head start for Ecuador.

I watch her close as she plays with children, as she flies across the sky in a harness, and wonder if earning her own money has intensified her experience.

I'm curious now and make inquiries through the other students. "Did anyone have to earn money for this trip?"

"Yes, I made and sold enchiladas. Two hundred."

"I had to pay half of my trip from the money I earn as a welder."

A welder? I had no idea the young man was an accomplished welder.

"I've been working in my grandfather's shop for years."

Another student launched a Go fund me.

Before we left, one student had written a check from her personal account. Her father stood proudly beside her. I later learned she also buys all her clothing and earned the money for this trip by working in her own home.

Only once have I heard complaints about the students who get to travel because they have the money, or rather they have parents with money. For many travelers, this is the case. But now I have seen this isn't always the case. However, I can't say the students who earned their way enjoyed the trip more--this would be an impossible measurement, yet in the sacrifice, there has to be a gain.

Last night, a passionate relative asked our family to watch the confirmation hearings for the Education Secretary. He pointed out Ms. DeVos ineptness and wanted us to contact our senators with our discontent. I certainly saw flaws, but I saw one response that hit home. When Bernie Sanders asks her if she will support his passion for free college education, she astutely reminds him, that there is no such thing as free. "Someone will have to pay."

That Ms. DeVos is fantastically wealthy also seemed to be a flaw, that she's never taken out a loan or managed loans.

Though I see the value for students earning their way to Ecuador, I could never say it qualified them more to enjoy the experience or to have a better experience. I hesitate to make the same claim or have the same requirements for the proposed Secretary of Education. I hope she is either denied or sustained based on her abilities to do the best job possible.