One scene in The Gold Coast that stuck with me personally was when Jim goes out by himself and realizes the state that actual people are living in. The scene which begins on page 230 and continues onto the next page shows him experiencing the idea of poverty, and then reflecting on it. His eyes are opened to the realities of poverty and inequality as he comes from a place where everyone at least has a place to call home. He has not seen people so poor off, has not realized that this path he took has lead him to begin to change even more as a person. Stepping out of one’s comfort zone is important in truly seeing just how unequal the world is, and in seeing that one should never take their things for granted.
In connection to this, I feel that adding in my own personal experiences would help add to the proof of Jim’s world view changing.
I went on two mission projects down in Costa Rica, one my before my Junior year of high school and the other before my Senior year of high school. Before this, I had considered myself decently aware of realities of poverty, but nothing ever prepares you for what you can see when you find yourself stepping out of your comfort zone and being right there first hand. The first year I went down there, we did many things such as work with a school and host learning events for community children through a church down there. However, the thing that struck me the most were the two days when we worked to provide care items for Guatemalan refugees who had camped alongside a river right outside of Jaco, which is a major tourist town. The sharp contrast between the bustling area of Jaco and the community alongside the river shocked me. Their homes were built out of trash and any materials they could find, but they were proud of what they made out of the little they had. They had so little, but still wanted to share the best of their things with us. The children and their bloated bellies, the little girls who knew too much of the adult world as they walked with their mothers to find a man who would pay them for pleasure all so they could feed their younger siblings… The stories that the people of this community shared about their experiences were absolutely heartbreaking. You cannot hear these stories and not come away from that a changed person. I had learned so much about my own person, my habits and my materialism, on the first trip that I felt my entire outlook had changed and that I could now come more prepared for the second trip. We did much of the same things we did the first year, but instead of visiting the refugees (who had been getting more and more assistance from visiting missionaries) we visited a neighborhood that one literally has to cross a narrow plank bridge to reach. The people in this village rarely saw people who were not from their community. During this time, dengue fever was also very rampant in Costa Rica, and many of these people were ill. They could not make the trip across the dangerous bridge to get the care they needed, and were relying on the support of the people around them. They also had very little, but still tried to make sure that we felt comfortable. Both of these trips completely changed how I view the world, and even my place in it.
I know that this experience made me grow as a person, and from that I know that Jim’s character has also grown, even if it may not be entirely obvious on the surface. This change is something deeper, and it’s hard to put into words just what exactly it is that one develops within themselves after such an event.
Below are a few of the pictures I have from the trip (I had trouble uploading them which is why this post is a bit past midnight). We were politely asked by both the communities I spoke of earlier to not photograph their homes, which is why I have not included anything relating to those two locations, save the picture by the river, which leads to the refugees’ homes.
Robinson, Kim Stanley. The Golden Coast. Tom Doherty Associates Inc, 1988. Print.
The pictures are either taken by me or by my friend, who gave me permission to use them.