The Realities of Academia
|"Miguel, why is the house on stilts?" Sarah Michaels asked looking at the bungalow.
"You see, Profesora, during the rainy season that helps keep water from entering and allows for air to circulate." answered Miguel Vasquez, her liaison for Columbia University at Bogota. "Very important things."
Sarah looked at the cracked dirt under her sandals trying to imagine the amount of rain that would make three foot stilts necessary. Reality was sinking in. The twenty-five year old doctoral candidate had postponed her final year to spend a year teaching in Columbia. This was her dream.
Back at the car, Sarah helped Miguel with her luggage. There wasn't much. A duffel bag full of clothes and a computer backpack were all she had brought. As she mounted the steps she noticed that, despite the fresh coat of white wash, her new quarters were very primitive. There were gaps in the planking and no screens in the windows. She was coming to the conclusion that she would basically be camping.
She turned and pointed to a small structure off to the left. "What's that?"
"That's the privy...the outhouse." Miguel answered, watching her closely. "Profesora? Is everything okay?"
"I don't...It's not how I thought it would be," she managed to answer.
"Profesora Michaels, back at Cambridge, sipping wine and listening to glorious tales of field work, did they not have movies, or maybe a slide show?"
"Yes, yes. We had an orientation. But, this is so...very...?"
Miguel turned and headed for the car. "Well, these postings are voluntary. If you're having a change of heart, now's the time. Before I leave."
Sarah opened the bungalow door and screeched as an impossibly huge insect scurried for cover. "Miguel!?"
"Have a safe trip back to Bogota," she said bravely.