I have traveled along the foggy, almost spooky, eight hour train ride across the rusty, jerky train tracks of New York State. I have lost $30 to a subway attendant because I made the mistake of picking up my receipt instead of the train ticket.
Then on Wednesday night, I took a twelve hour flight to Doha where I sat next to a Pakistani woman who has lived in New Jersey for almost 25 years. She was on her way to Pakistan for a wedding from Doha. We discussed many topics as we drifted in and out of sleep on the plane which felt like a bus in the air. We definitely were sitting close enough to each other! We discussed a vast array of topics from being a Muslim post 9/11 in America, traveling to Pakistan, her children's schooling, my research, etc. Yet as I discussed my research with her, she finally asked but, "What is a NGO?" This woman works for the Department of Transportation, has a family of business, biochemical engineers, and even knows very well about Greg Mortenson's work in Pakistan building schools. Although I know she knows about organizations, I begin to think about how many times I have to answer that question for friends, family members, peers at SLU, teachers, etc. This got me thinking about NGO jargon again and how I should accommodate my language for others and those I interview. All in all, this is how the people view NGOs not how the larger elite international community views NGOs. And even using the word development in some cases will simply place me at the top.
Well, I have 6 more hours in the Doha airport before I head to meet two SLU alumni, Tsewang and Brijlal, in the Tribhuvan International Airport completing my almost 48 hours of travel. I need to kiss the earth at the end of this for all the fuel I have used on this journey.
Yes, that title is tacky but I heard the Bob Seger song in the Doha airport today and I just could not resist.