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On watching someone’s screen over their shoulder

March 11, 2011

I learned the danger of creeping someone’s computer screen today. In a lecture, we were supposed to be watching a movie. The girl in front of me had other priorities and was posting to a Lonely Planet forum about her upcoming voluntrip to Ecuador. Her post was something like this:

“Have any of you been to the orphanage volunteer site with (name of organization) because I’m going there but I don’t want to do the full 3 days. I mean I love kids and all and that is why I am going but I want to do the beach trip as well and the site says that you can do both. So 2 days helping then one day for relaxation, that is what I’m thinking. Do they let you do that?”

Right now you’re probably thinking “You need to pay more attention to class and mind your own business.” And if you’re thinking that, you’re totally right.

But I couldn’t get it out of my head. Oh, I thought about how to tap her on the shoulder and start whispering about the damages of short-term (in her case…VERY short-term…no comment on her beach plans 🙂 ) well-meaning volunteers in orphanages overseas a la Hendricks (check it out, Sit A Spell articulates their concerns about these orphanages in a easy to understand way- firsthand knowledge and communicated better than I could. Read it!) in a way that wasn’t totally weird. I couldn’t come up with a way to make it non-creepy. What do you say? “Sorry, I was watching your screen and I happen to have some experience with this whole volunteering thing, and I read blogs so I (incorrectly) assume I know what I’m talking about, and I think you should consider the impact of spending 2 days bonding with these kids and then leaving to go to the beach…I know you just want to help, but think of the problem holistically!” Then I’d whip out a copy of When Helping Hurts and graciously and humbly ask her to read it and underline all sections that apply to this trip she’s taking. See, not weird at all.

Anyways. The class ended, I didn’t say anything, and she’s still going to Ecuador. I hope someone mentions the problems with short term trips to orphanages to her, or that she come to understand it as she volunteers there and can come back and teach people this lesson herself (that would be awesome! praying for that.).

I also hope that I will figure out what that movie I was supposed to be watching was about. It is on the midterm next week…

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