4,000 Pesos and the Power of Hokey Pokey
When money passes quickly through your fingers, it can be easy to forget its value. It’s almost as if it magically (and sometimes, thankfully) drops out of the ABM when you punch in that not-so-secret code. It shows up in our accounts on payday, and disappears a few days later. Our laissez-faire view of money can even be seen in the way that we rarely bother worrying about the difference of a few cents or dollars on costs, as it can become almost an insignificant amount in our daily lives. We are very private about our wealth, or lack thereof, as we feel that we are the ones who have worked hard for it and we are the ones who can determine how it is spent. Whether we work minimum wage jobs slinging French fries or we look down on the world from the penthouse office on the 23rd floor, we still have to do something to be able to afford the lives we have created. But what if we couldn’t get out of a cycle that we were a part of? What if controlling our finances and increasing our wealth was beyond our own limits?The Dominican peso is about 37.5 to the Canadian dollar right now. 4000 pesos is worth about $110. In our world, $110 is a cell bill, a pair of jeans, a really good night out, a couple of new video games, a down payment on a new laptop, a Saturday afternoon at the mall, or even a tank of gas in the car. It’s not a lot, really – except if you are a teacher in a little unknown village inside the port of Puerto Plata – because 4000 pesos is what each one of those teachers make each month. For real.Each of them teaches in the morning, the afternoon – or both, for the same amount. If you break that down to a daily amount, it is around $5.50 per day. No matter where you live in the world, that is not very much for someone with that kind of responsibility.When I stand in their classrooms with different teams that come to visit, I always watch the teachers. They are so awesome. Each visit we teach them the Hokey Pokey song or some other deep and contemplative English number for the kids to have fun with. They all go nuts with laughter, but for me, the best part is watching the teachers. They join in with such passion and craziness that we can never keep a straight face watching them. And every time we walk out of that school I think about what they so willingly put out every day – because they really get it.Would I be able to do that every day for 4000 pesos a month? Would I be able to have a vision for my life and my world if every day was a struggle to just be able to eat and stay healthy? I don’t know if I could. They amaze me. They are not perfect or even necessarily altruistic – but I realize that I can learn something from all of them. They love their jobs; they really do. They don’t have computers, a real desk or even a staff room to relax in. But they love their jobs because they love those kids, and they love what they represent. They represent the future, and to be able to be a part of that now means a lot to them. They are far more wealthy than their 4000 peso salary, because they have investments in the future that are worth more than any of us will ever understand.And lucky me: I get to sing the Hokey Pokey with them every time I go to their school.This summer we are going to be working in their community, helping to build homes and be a part of something amazing. To find out more about how you can join us, check out www.livedifferent.com.