Amazing essay, Courtney.
To me, the crux of this issue lies in respect and how we see the people we’re working with. In our minds, do we see them as poor, helpless, uneducated, backwards, etc? Or do we see them as true peers, human beings who are both intelligent and capable?
If our mindset is that folks all over the world have just as much to offer and teach us as we do them, then our work is grounded in respect. If our mindset is that we are their saviors, their superheroes, or their leaders, then we’re heading down a road paved with good intentions but we know where that will inevitably lead.
In my experience with KRX Cinema in Papua New Guinea, I learned and grew and changed just as much if not more than the people I shared the cinema with. It was a journey I’m a much better person for having taken, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I hope that I continue to grow in my respect for those I work with and that my work always stays grounded in it.
Thanks again for sharing.