Note: I would have put this in the Africa forum, but sadly no one ever goes there. Ok, so 4 years ago I went to Tanzania with a volunteer group. It was an amazing experience, yet obviously extremely emotional. I grew really annoyed with the other volunteers, bc the ones my age were all New England-bording-school-Harvard-bound rich kids who were only doing it for something to put on their college ap. So now I'm in college, and I'm taking a History of South Africa course, and about 20 of us are actually going to go there for a month this summer. I leave next month. I am going to go, partly bc of the money I've already deposited, and also bc I don't NOT want to go either. Here's the thing...I'm really really fucking sensitive when it comes to Africa. Maybe it's bc I went there when I was only 16 and it left a huge impression on me, maybe it's the beauty, the people, I don't know. Anyway, we recently had a meeting where a guy who went last year came and talked to us and told us all that we were going to do. Basically, the trip will be balanced between doing really depressing shit like meeting prostitutes in East London, working with HIV street children, and child drug addicts, and "down time" where we can relax...and this includes being able to go to clubs and bars at night. Now, I can't drink for medical reasons, but even if I could, I wouldn't go to a fucking club in SA. WHY???? Why the fuck would you go halfway around the world to a place you've never been and do the same fucking thing you do every night here in the US? The guy was telling us about some girls last year who got really drunk and ended up getting into a van with african men! I DON'T WANT TO TRAVEL WITH DUMBASSES!!! I don't really know everyone of the 20 (all girls, one guy) people I'm going with, and I realize I'm stereotyping, but I can tell just by looking at some of them (yeah, I'm judging, get over it) that some of them are going to get on my last damn nerve. This kinda leads to a bigger issue...I have a fear that Africa is becoming the new Jamaica. All of a sudden, thanks to Angelina Jolie and Madonna, and the "Red Campaign" bullshit, Africa is "Hip!" and "COOL!" And it's really fashionable to adopt an african baby (btw, I've been wanting to adopt from Africa since I was 14!! Before it was cool!) But, like Jamaica, Africa is still poor, but that's ok, because it's a wonderful way to make people feel guilty and send you money to help those poor starving africans with the flies on their faces. And forget that they don't have jobs, or healthcare, or educations, because they're just a "Laid back" kind of people. Want some culture? Let's make the African dance for us!! Yay! I feel like I've set myself up to get pissed off with my peers (I have a history of hating my peers) all over again. Bc the thing is, what am I going to do there? I've already seen horrible, fucked up shit, and I don't need to see anymore while being in such a powerless position. I feel like this whole trip is going to be me holding my tongue while everybody else gasps to learn that some people don't have running water (what?! no way!), and then me stifling a blow to someones face as everybody goes out and gets drunk right after witnessing hell...Their actions effect me indirectly, I have to point out--there's an international stereotype about American girls being easy for a reason, and I'm sick of having to defend myself from it. I want to go to Africa WITHOUT a tour group. My mom's moving to senegal next year, so I'm hoping when I visit her I can stay at a cheap, local hotel, instead of in her bordered up palace they give to diplomats. But still, it frustrates me to no end that Africa is viewed through such a narrow, self-interested lens. It's MORE than poverty, it's MORE than wars, and aids, and all the other horrible shit you hear about it. It's a continent of dignity, and amazing potential. It's not a collection of victims for ngos and politicians (ESP politicians...don't get me STARTED) to exploit for financial or personal gain. If you're going to Africa because it's "cool" and you want to meet "hot rastas" and lie on a beach resort in Durban...do me a favor and FUCK OFF. I don't care how many "orphanages" you visited, going to Africa doesn't make you an instantly good person. You have to respect it for the complex situation it is. AND STOP GETTING DRUNK EVERY FUCKING PLACE YOU GO. Seriously, are there any NON-alcoholics who want to REALLY travel and fuck the tourist bubble with me? RAHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!