A Letter to Geneva


Dear Geneva,

You may not realize this, but it’s not a crime to be poor. The fact that I am not a millionaire’s daughter is not a personal failing. I know that since you’ve been living a life of luxury funded mostly by money looted from my country and my continent, you have a difficult time understanding that not everyone owns a bank, or a watch manufacturing company that they can use to pay your ridiculously exaggerated house rent and insurance premiums. Yours was the first visa interview I’ve had where the interviewer, after looking at my bank statement, used a calculator to find out if I was worthy to be granted a visa. Apparently, I passed that test by the skin of my teeth, and she looked me up and down, as if to say, “What does your kind want in our country?” Well, nothing really. It’s just that a school that will help me achieve my career goals happens to be on the wrong side of the Franco-Swiss border. Otherwise I’d steer clear of you.

I’ve been on scholarships since I was a child, so I know what it’s like to be the only person in the room who doesn’t live in a sprawling mansion with staff to wait on me hand and foot. I’ve learned to live with classism, and frankly, I don’t begrudge rich people and their opulence (at least, not anymore). I have no ambition to own a yacht, or a private jet, or to overthrow the 1%. However, I don’t think it is far-fetched for me to expect to afford food, public transportation and a spare room in a house on the same budget that saw me through a year in a French city. In fact, now I have even more money because the nice people who sponsor my scholarship decided to increase it, and I have a job. Why is that not enough for you?

Please understand that people with less than 25 000 Swiss Francs in their bank accounts are people too. You’ve probably not met many, but we exist, and we dare to believe that we can continue living despite this apparent handicap.

Yours faithfully,

Can’t Afford A Bloody Room To Rent


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