These Minnesota college students get an A+ for adventure. Follow along as they explore the world while studying abroad.

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More Than Good Intentions

Posted by: Rachel Fohrman Updated: July 25, 2013 - 7:30 AM

There are a lot of ethics related problems I have with international service learning , but one of the biggest things I grapple with is overpromising. It's really difficult to work with an inspiring organization or individual and not want to just say yes, no matter the request. Some of that is for selfish reasons, as saying no doesn't feel great. That being said, I think that most of us genuinely have good intentions, and want our promises to carry weight- until we get back home. It's so easy to go back and let people and places fade as time goes on. It's almost like you never left, and that's one of my biggest fears on this trip.

I read a book right before I left that has stuck with me throughout these last few weeks. In the book, an American goes abroad, and makes a promise to a girl with a severe brain injury that he will save her. When he gets home, he gradually forgets about her. Years later, she writes a book about her experiences, and coldly assures him he isn't in it. I can't stop thinking about how terrible it is. Overpromising is so easy, but it has absolutely devastating consequences to people who have already been through situations that most of us can't fathom. Letting down somebody who has lost almost everything is one of the worst things you can do to a person, and I never want to put myself in that type of situation. Still, it isn't easy to know what to say when people ask you if you're coming back. Truthfully, I would love to, but I can't promise I will. 

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