‘Twisted Western view’ at the heart of Quito Project
To the Daily:
The article in yesterday’s Daily (Students travel to Ecuador to aid community, 09/19/05) was imbalanced. It set a biased tone within the first few paragraphs, which described Chillogallo using inarticulate and oppressive language: “Children are poorly educated, malnourished and often abused, and parents struggle to make a decent living. Families are forced to live in dirt-covered homes with only one room.” What did the reporter mean by “decent living” and “poorly educated?”
And what is wrong with living in a home that is not a three-story Victorian? Obviously, this reporter’s judgments were made using a twisted Westerner’s standards, because I am certain a local from Chillogallo would portray his community in a very different way.
The same twisted Westerner’s view, that people living in less economically advanced countries need to be “saved” by outside experts who believe they are smarter and have better standards of living, was promoted in the article through affirmative, one-sided reporting on the University team that visited Chillogallo. Throughout the story, those who “aided” made comments on how great it was that the community members “helped” them and how efforts were made to include the villagers; this is precisely the problem with so many “development” projects. People should not be “included” as an afterthought – it should be the community members who initiate development projects because they are the experts on their own health and education. They know what they need.
An approach with more integrity might consist of a team from the University providing resources that local leaders requested in order to attack root problems they had identified, not things University students who grew up thousands of miles away had decided were the community’s “problems.”
The first step toward implementing legitimate aid programs or writing good descriptions of villages is to become conscious of individual biases. The leaders of the Quito Project and the Daily reporter who covered it failed to take this primary step.
Daily cartoons suck
To the Daily:
The cartoons on the Opinion page suck this year. Please fix this problem.