A conception turned upside down

By Cindy J. Austin

Today I was not in America.

After hearing Yuem, a typical mother in a squatter village, talk about her daughter, my idea of employment was flipped on its end. She showed us a picture of the 17-year-old and boasted about her job as a worker in the garment industry. To Americans, this means typical Asian sweatshop: where the young are forced to work and the conditions are unbearable.

Brandon, our guide, shared with us a story about the same situation.When a Westerner had referenced the sweatshops in Western terms, a Cambodian answered, “Work in the farm for a day. After you’ve been bent over in the heat for 10 hours a steady paying job in a building with fans isn’t so bad.”

I wonder how many times my conceptions of the world can turn upside down in three weeks. Guess we’ll find out.


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