Monday, January 5, 2009
Pre-Trip Reflections: Kristi Saeger
Reflection Kristi Saeger: Pre-trip
As an Economics and International Affairs double major, the issue of coffee crises in Central and South America has become a focus of my studies and research while at Gettysburg College. The opportunity to spend time within a culture that is highly dependant on the coffee industry immediately grabbed my attention, and from then forward other aspects of the CPS trip became truly intriguing to me for multiple reasons. Though I have been outside of the United States, I have never had the chance to visit any locations "south of the border" and within this particular region. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to study abroad in Australia, but did not get the chance to reside with a host family; something of which I feel is a valuable and potentially life-altering experience for all. I do not really have any fears or apprehensions upon preparing for the journey; mostly excitement stemming from unknown of a foreign country. I love traveling and seeing new places, and cannot wait to have a first-hand experience of what life would be like had I been born into a Latin American environment. I enjoy helping people; especially those who need it most like the people of Nicaragua who have recently gone through sorts of political and economic revolution. I hope that I can represent the United States to the best of my ability and reciprocate back to the Nicaraguan people the same amount of open-mindedness and mutual respect that I'm sure they will provide for me. Overall I am just really eager to get there and interact with the people of their culture, and have an amazing time!
Cultural Research Topic
In a recent economic research study that I conducted for class, I discovered a potential correlation between Central American's Human Development Index and their country-specific coffee industries. Some nations are flourishing with their coffee exports; however, others like Nicaragua are being exploited by the major Big Four roasting corporations who are not paying a fair market-value for the good. For instance, one study showed that kilos of coffee from Nicaragua were selling for less than US$1.00 per kilo, which in turn could produce over 80 cups of coffee being sold at an average of US$3.00 per cup. The overwhleming success of the coffee industry in Westernized nations has not proven to match the overwhelming struggles of developing nations responsible for growing the beans. With a HDI rating of 147, according to the World Bank, Nicaragua's economy needs a boost in order for their socio-economic situation to improve in the future. I am interested in possibly communicating with the Nicaraguan people as to how they feel about coffee and the opportunities available for them in regards to inequality amongst their culture and Westernized roasting companies. I am also interested to see how they feel about the fair trade movement, or if they are even truly aware of it, which has been growing in popularity and support over the last decade in the US. The only perspective one has is that which is offered to them; by actually traveling to Nicaragua I hope to gain a new perspective on the coffee crises of the 1990s and early 2000s through communication and maybe even first-hand experience in the coffee fields as well.