Learn to listen to those that do not have the same experiences as us


Lindsey Rodman

A&E Editor Macey Poitras-Cote writes that we should listen to others that have different life experiences from us, specifically in terms of affluence, so we can learn more about the world.

Macey Poitras-Cote, A&E Editor

The world holds endless amounts of information and stories, and we are only able to absorb so much of it. Everyone’s experiences vary; in turn, we absorb information at different times. Some of us are privileged enough to not have to absorb the stories from the less privileged. This actually puts us at a disadvantage, falling for the dangerous single story.

This summer I realized I fell for the single story.

I have always known that I live a very fortunate life: every night I have food on the table, clean clothes to wear and money is almost never a concern for my family. Now sometimes I wonder and worry about money. I don’t understand how my parents are going to be able to pay for mine and my sister’s college tuition, a new garage and all of the daily expenses that my sister and I rack up. This isn’t a big concern for me; I trust and know that, in the end, everything will turn out okay. I’m pretty sure that money isn’t a big concern for the kids that come in with new Patagonias or Nike sneakers every week either. I also realize that teens from less fortunate homes have this concern more of the time, and some might even have to focus on providing for their families. However, when you’re younger, money has no true meaning or impact on you. For most kids, they don’t have to worry about money. 

This summer I worked at a summer camp in Worcester with six and seven-year-olds. The majority of these kids came from low-income houses and paid next to nothing to go to camp. 

One day we went to the sprinkler park. After having fun in the water, we sat on the grass to dry off. The six and seven-year-olds have a hard time listening to each other, and they all want to have my attention. The general conversation was about the new Toy Story movie. Four of the five kids had to tell me when they saw it, who they were with, what they got for snacks and their favorite parts. I was struggling to try and listen to all of them. The fifth kid, however, asked me what day it was. 

I replied with “It’s Wednesday.” 

Then he asked “Is Tuesday tomorrow?”

“Nope, tomorrow’s Thursday.” He looked back at me disappointed and confused. 

This went on until we got to Tuesday. I was puzzled by his curiosity to know when it would be Tuesday. Maybe it was someone’s birthday next Tuesday? Maybe a relative was visiting him in seven days? Maybe in a week he wouldn’t be at camp or had something fun planned? 

He asked me how many days it would be until Tuesday. 

“Seven more days until Tuesday,” I replied.

“Oh, okay. That’s when my dad gets paid. I wish it was Tuesday,” said the precious six-year-old.

“Why do you want it to be his payday?”

“Because that’s when he gets money, and he is happy.”

I was stunned. He was six years old, and while the other kids were having the time of their lives playing in the sprinkler park and talking about Toy Story 4 he was preoccupied thinking about when his father got paid. 

My single story was that kids are not mentally affected by finances in their homes, that they don’t have to worry about money. I was wrong. I am fortunate enough that I don’t have the same pressures from my family. When I go home I do not have to fear or worry about my parents and family the way this kid does. I am used to being told “you don’t know what other people are going through,” but I didn’t think it applied to little kids. Anyone can be going through a tough time.

This kid didn’t need my money or clothes from me; he just needed someone to listen to him. We think that the poor need our money, food or clothes, but really the best thing we can do is listen to their stories. Let people share their stories and be heard. Let people know they are heard and that you are there for them. 

What we need to do is absorb more stories.