Social Class Prejudice, Resolved.
By Anna McMullen
On my study abroad to France with Principia College, I had a healing of class prejudice. I will start by giving you a little background information. I grew up in a very nice middle class home in Texas. Everyone had a large house, a large yard, and plenty of steak to eat. My home-stay in Bordeaux was a different class: they did not have the same luxuries that I have at my Texas home. In my eyes they seemed to be struggling financially. The mother and her son lived in a very small apartment with no yard on the outskirts of the city with enough bread to feed the family. Instead of seeing them as perfect and complete, I worried about their lifestyle. Didn’t they want a better life than this? I started fearing that they did. I had nightmares where the home-stay mom would come into my room and steal my things. I was afraid of them. I did not feel safe. I felt I wasn’t getting the abroad experience that I signed up for.
After a few days, l realized that something needed to change. The first step of the healing had occurred. I recognized the problem, but how could I realize that I did not need to be afraid? I really tried to get to know my French family instead of judging them from a distance. Instead of being afraid of them and making this experience all about myself, I turned outwards into unselfishness. That day after school, I went to the store and bought my host mom her favorite fruit, mangoes. It was just a simple thing, but turning my thoughts to others was a big mental shift. My heart opened up little by little. I remembered that the purpose of the study abroad was to love the French people, culture, and language. This change in my view, helped me understand my French family. Where I saw lack, I realized that my family did not. They had everything they needed. They had love. At the end of the week, I had replaced fear with gratitude.
There are places like this in Dallas, my hometown, and every city, but I had never lived there. My study abroad in France gave me the chance to live in a different class setting and see the equality of classes that I can apply with me in every city that I go to.