“Who has worked in McDonalds?” Students turn their heads, searching for a raised hand to break the uncomfortable silence. “I can’t believe it,” the professor smiles incredulously, “One in eight Americans has been employed by McDonalds.” At last someone raises her hand, a lifelong learner with a beaded glasses chain resting on her back. McDonald’s system is so efficient and good at selling burgers, she explains, that there are completely illogical results. The seats are easily cleanable, but terribly uncomfortable, and the food is horrible for human health.
The class conversation dove into the complexities of globalization, but my thoughts were caught back on the McDonalds statistic. Why had no one in my class worked under the golden arches? Of course students are young; some of us may flip burgers at some point in life. Yet many American students have minimum wage jobs. The truth: students on this ship are far from typical Americans. To make generalizations, we are privileged, upper class, and have received excellent educations. We do come from economically diverse backgrounds, however most of the students are very well off. Instead of working in fast food joints, we spend summers doing internships trying to get ahead in the academic world. This era is a competitive one. Last year was predicted to have the highest number of college applicants in history. We do come from very wealthy backgrounds (by world standards), yet our attitudes tend to be open-minded.
People on the ship are global experience seekers. Many of us want to help the world, whether that be through international relations, business, humanitarian goals, or even SAS service trips. Many students are motivated to be proactive and give back, which is fantastic!
Despite our privileged backgrounds, I hope that this global adventure will humble us. Although we may never work in McDonalds, I hope we can learn the lessons of hard work and inequality in the workplace. These lessons will teach us to appreciate workers everywhere, to respect and advocate for them. Our generation is bursting with curiosity, activism and a desire to learn; this voyage will fuel us to make a change.
— Kira McCoy