As a scholar doing research about povery while live in Clayton, I am a hypocrat, only way to redeem my sin is to make my research not that hypocratical.
Clayton is one of the richest community in St.Louis, I was not really interested in living here until I got a chance to move here. Clayton is really really beautiful: Tall trees, beautiful and clean road, “nice” people. Most importantly, Clayton has one of the best school districts in the city. Think about how priviledge those children can be….
Once or twice a week, I run on Wydown, from South Handley Road to Big Bend. When I run, I listen to Gregorian chant and I meditate. As a frist year PhD student, I am way behind my peers in my research. I come to my program with a idealistic idea about what kind of life I want my people be, and many observations from ground to prove that many studies have done before cannot help my people. I do not come to the program with a concrete research question, not mention a four year research agenda. I really do not know how I get accepted besides by God’s grace.
However, I am still really really hesitating to settle down on a thing. I want to make sure I am asking the right questions and the standard to for me judge whether it is right is just one: if I put energy and resources in doing that, can I help the people I care about.
Running on Wydown really really makes me think this question deeper and deeper. As a PhD student, I have a comfortable material life, but spiritually, I should never ever feel settled.
I love rural China, it is a place full of magic I miss there and I miss the time I spent with my children there. However, if you ask me, whether you are willing to move there for the rest of my life. My answer is “No”. Why? ( here is the crucial question I need to ask, here is the crucial part that I need to bring change to the ground)
We all want to alliviate the poverty because we know poverty is bad. There are tons of resources and programs have been put to the ground for that purpose. BUT why some of the programs do not work well? Why so many community development projects fell?
Because we live in “Clayton”, and we know we will not and never want to move to those places. We can do research on “those people” and do devleopment in “those areas” but “those” will not become ours.
I feel so glad that I have spent two years with my kids, at least now, I have a concrete memory about them. The expirience in the past two years makes them part of me, and I part of them. Now I wish that my future experience will be part of their future experience. One day, I will proudly say that I will/ want to move to a town in rural China, and that town or village will be my area, and those people will happily receive me as theirs.
Even Clayton is a very nice neighborhood, Clayton is every segregated too.. There are roads to separate “low-income” students from “middle income families”, “midde income families” from “up-middle income families”. and definitely those super rich houses have their own entrances and road, which will never be accessible to general public.
Even, when we fight to certain class, there are still ways to make you less fit into the class…lol…Human weird nature…