Today’s post comes native Katherine Koller, a student with our partner organization Thinking beyond Borders. TBB is a void year regimen committed to changing learning in to action. This enjoy stems native a group conversation held during her gap year.

You are watching: Ivan illich to hell with good intentions

As we passed Ivan Illich’s decided “To Hell with great Intentions” about the room, each of us reading aloud a paragraph, gradually all expression turned come what I have the right to only define as dazed. His speech began: “I am here to tell you, if feasible to convince you, and hopefully, to stop you, from pretentiously imposing yourselves.”I no angry through the author; i wasn’t converted. At first I was merely numb to protect myself native the existential situation that i feared would certainly come upon additional reflection.

I have to admit, the fazed me. I’m finding the incredibly challenging to theorem my thoughts on this matter. I have far too numerous of them comes at me lot too quickly.

I embarked on my space year important believing I’d be doing good. Ns don’t pretend come still think this. Seriously, who have I aided on this trip? Ecuador: ns replanted trees because that farmers who had destroyed them in the very first place, and also would most likely (one that them currently did while we were there) destroy them again. China: ns “helped” privileged Chinese students find out English so that they might score well on exams and become even much more privileged. India: i begged and pleaded to walk to job-related every day, to choose 50 cents worth of noodle for farmers who were simply indulging a silly girl. Southern Africa: i “assist” caretakers who are perfectly capable of law their work themselves. And also if i think of all the aircraft fare spent on this trip and also what it might have excellent if it had actually simply to be donated…sometimes mine resolution important wavers. However then ns remember that the objective of this trip is “service learning,” and also I feel lot better.

During orientation i was presented to the idea of company learning matches actual neighborhood service. Ns was frustrated by this “service learning” whereby it no seem favor I was doing any an excellent for anyone. Then ns arrived in India. Ns was over there to research sustainable agriculture. However, all I could focus on to be the injustices in the direction of women.

A year back I didn’t recognize if I can be truly passionate around anything as well as theatre, and I had absolutely no reservation what ns was going to do with mine life. Now I do. I wouldn’t speak to it a desire so much as a must return come India. I can’t check out what ns saw and also do nothing about it. I need to return to India and work because that a women’s or human being rights NGO of some sort. Ns was born with so lot extra anger and passion, and also I finally know where I can productively channel it. So there is no doubt in my mind the this year was no wasted. It was the best-used year of my life. Ns don’t pretend that it no selfish, the was. Ns don’t ~ do so that i “sacrificed” to assist others. And also I am no ridiculously proud that myself.

But if I deserve to follow the career path that this trip inspired me to follow, I deserve to make it up to the world. Ns truly think I can. Due to the fact that although Illich to be correct in saying that you can’t perform any an excellent in a month, I believe that he is wrong in speak you can’t carry out any an excellent abroad period. I can start examining Hindi in college, I deserve to spend years instead of months in India, and I deserve to learn to understand the society enough to help.

How have the right to Illich say the Americans can not do an excellent abroad? okay admit, Illich hit pretty nearby to residence with the totality “living in a hut and also eating tortillas” thing, and also yes in 4 core nations I no speak among the languages. Yet I am hesitant towards his assertion the I have done “willy-nilly” damage. Throughout the expedition we have actually been examining “bad” development, and also I hope that I have actually sense enough that I’d establish if i were participating in it. To to convince me on this point, Illich would have actually to administer further and an ext specific examples. Together for getting into national politics instead, if yes one point I’ve learned this year, it’s that politicians cannot be trusted to take treatment of the human being by themselves.

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I know that part adults will be shaking their heads saying, “silly small girl will adjust her mind a thousand times before she really decides what she desires to do.” possibly that’s true. But at least I have actually direction currently where I had actually none before. And also at least I have good intentions, i m sorry I understand won’t be enough.

So what do you think, if it’s an excellent in intent and also it’s just a small bent, does it matter?