HelpXing in Ireland

Honour thy master- for I am but a wee servant girl at this grand estate in Ireland. So that’s a little dramatic, but I can’t discount the fact that my experience in Ireland this past April was very interesting. It wasn’t at all what Michelle, Julia or I expected. A little bit of information on HelpXing: www.helpx.net is a website through which potential workers are able to find locations around the world where they can work in order to attain free room and board. It really is a very cool system. On arrival we were led to our accomodations in the coach house that hadn’t been lived in for quite a while and had occasional running water. (But never after flushing the toliet and it was always cold.) That was an interesting experience in itself. It was nice to have our own space though. Our second day there we reported to work and worked all day. Michelle got recruited for kitchen work while Julia and I got introduced to house work- running things up and down the stairs, cleaning fireplaces, picking up cigarette butts, fluffing pillows, vacuuming and just cleaning up after rich people. It was a very interesting experience. One of the more awful parts was that a lot of the guests did not even acknowledge our existence. We were just ‘the help’ to them. I had never felt so ignored and insignificant before, but I think that from it I really gained some valuable insights. The owners of the estate are not poor. Nowhere near it. So why do they choose to have HelpXers rather than paid workers? They were just exploiting cheap labor and the worst part is that often HelpXers are exactly the kind of kind souls who will take it and not fight back. It was disgusting. One memory that will always stick with me was one night there were Irish dancers at the estate and we watched them through the back window with the rest of the workers. It just seemed so depressing that we were experiencing such an amazing performance from out on the deck behind the house. If any paying visitor stood for a second our view was completely obstructed. All of this led me to really think how people can really take advantage of other people and also just about what kind of person I want to be. As one of my new friends from the estate said, “I would rather be poor because I gave all of my money away to help others, than know that I’m rich because I stepped on others in order to get there.” It’s a pretty important concept to take in to consideration in one’s life. If in order to make lots of money you have to take from others, then is it really worth it? I still remember how the only day that I felt like someone actually put me on the same level as them was when I was walking around in a University of Oxford shirt. All of a sudden, the grandma of the family was interested in my education and in me generally. All of a sudden I wasn’t just ‘the help.’ I was a girl who was getting a college education. I was more of an equal. It all seems so silly though. How can you really look at another person and think that their life is worth less than yours? Thankfully, while working at the estate we were able to meet many other great people who I will never forget. We made such amazing friends and had some really great conversations with them. I also had a trip to the ocean that was incredible! It was so beautiful out there. I could have just stayed out by the ocean side forever and been completely content. My only regret is that I only had one day that I was able to actually do something enjoyable while I was staying at the estate. It was a growing experience though. I will never forget my time at the estate and the important lessons that I took away with me. Cheers ladies and gents ☺

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