I’m From Princeton, and I’m Here to Help!

I found myself immensely entertained with Faine Green‘s cartoon caricature of the young, progressive Ivy League graduate who arrives in Cambodia ready to save the world (and look good doing it). The caricature is smartly captioned:

“She graduated from Princeton on a mission: a mission to save the world. Preferably with microcredit and hugs, and lots of selfies with poor children who live on trash heaps.” [1]

Faine Opines. 2 January 2014.

While funny, the Ivy League lament that “I should have gone into finance” is no joke.  In her ethnography of investment finance Karen Ho reports that 40% of all Princeton undergrads went to work on Wall Street after graduation. [2] The young globe trotting do-gooder caricatured here is in a definite minority. Indeed, it might do America good if more of our Princeton t-shirt donning 20-somethings ended up in hot places where they will hate the food, have their bike stolen (despite buying that iron padlock), and will spend more uncomfortable hours squatting over a toilet than they thought was possible.

It is less clear if these graduates will do Cambodia any good.

In any case, be sure to check out some of Ms. Green’s other caricatures, The Terrified PhD Candidate, Australian Yobbos, American Contractors on Leave, and French People.


[1] Faine Green. “Expat Field Guide: Ivy League Grad Who Is Here To Save You.” Faine Opines. 2 January 2014.

[2]Karen Ho. Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street. (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009), 44.

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