Wake-Up Call

In The Art of Travel, 6. First Book, Washington DC by Matthew ChungLeave a Comment

I was luckily born with the privilege of being a middle to upper class son of two very loving and successful parents. I was raised in both a wealthy area of Seoul as well as Irvine, California which is a very well-developed city, widely considered the safest city in the United States. My parents pushed me to try my best in academics and I grew up playing soccer, playing the violin, and doing art. In addition, whenever I was struggling with a study in school, my parents would get me extra help through tutoring or another form of paid academic assistance. I was also raised in a very sheltered way so I was not very aware or educated about the plights of underprivileged and undeveloped regions of the world; as are many citizens of Irvine, California which is called the Irvine Bubble for its isolation from the realities of the world.

In addition to all of these characteristics, I am also a student at New York University, one of the most expensive schools to attend in the world. Although this is so, NYU is a great school in that it is very diverse and this diversity has spurred the aggregation of a variety of different ideologies. NYU has many study away sites and these really allow its students to have informative and valuable cultural experiences along with their studies.

As a student of NYU D.C. I am obviously living in the capital of the country, very amazing in its own right, but another interesting aspect of its location is its proximity to states like Virginia and Maryland. These states have areas that are very different to that of D.C. and thus when I traveled to Woodmore CDP, Maryland to go to Six Flags with a couple friends, it was a very eye-opening experience.

Before I went on this trip, I had read Lost in the City by Edward P. Jones. The book is a collection of 14 different stories of the plight of African-Americans as they struggle for survival within Washington D.C. Of the 14 stories within, the story of Madeleine Williams touched me the most. The story seems very authentic and emotional in that the character grows up living a normal life until her father kills her mother and she later gives birth to a handicapped child.

Visiting Six Flags in Maryland became a very enriching experience in that I saw real-life examples of Madeleine Williams and the other characters of Lost in the City. When I arrived at the metro station in Woodmore CDP, it was very clear that I was no longer in D.C. The station itself was fairly well-built and modernized in that it was relatively new; however, there was still trash on the floor and there were several beggars and homeless people surrounding the facility as well. There was also a plenitude of strange men and women had clearly suffered from mental-illnesses due to difficult lives, severe psychological experiences, and/or etc.

As a person blessed with a privileged life, having these experiences is very enlightening in that I am able to interact and gain truth from the aspects of the world that I having little familiarity with. Many of the underdeveloped and underprivileged areas of the world are trapped in a cycle of pain and suffering which is almost impossible to escape from. There are countless stories like the ones from Lost in the City which are very much real and prevalent today. Personally, I believe it is the duty of mainly the government to provide sufficient aid to these areas as many people are selfish and neglect the plight of these peoples. People with generous and charitable hearts do exist and aid these peoples in alleviating their issues; however, this assistance is clearly not substantial enough to spark major reform. I hope that in the near future, a greater sense of focus on the struggling peoples of the world is created and that true changes are made.

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(Image: Maryland Ghetto; Source: City Data)

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