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Students learn from Poverty Simulation

Students learn from Poverty Simulation


By Carissa Lucas ’10

Temperatures hovering in the 40’s, begging for food and digging through trash for aluminum cans are just a few things University of Mary Hardin-Baylor students participating in a poverty simulation experienced in a total of 28 hours.
In conjunction with Missions Emphasis Week, a week when UMHB is filled with missionaries from all over the world, the Baptist Student Ministry helped roughly 20 students experience what it’s like to live in poverty.

The students were split into groups to keep each other company and to motivate one another. In each group one person selected at random was chosen to be ‘homeless.’ This homeless person could not keep any of their personal items, and they got no simulation money at all. They had no sleeping bag, no toothbrush and no warm clothes unless they were shared by someone in their group.

“One of the guys in my group gave up keeping an item so that the ‘homeless’ person in our group could keep his jeans,” said Mullins.

In the middle of the night Mullins and his group were woken by the UMHB police and were told they would have to move. After re-settling in another area on campus for the night, they were jarred out of their sleep by the sprinkler system coming on and soaking them.

Freshman graphic design major Taylor Bela, a participant in the poverty simulation, said staying the night outside in the cold weather was difficult.

“I only had shorts on so it was an intense experience,” Bela said.

Not only did she sleep outside for a night, she also spent some of her day in the campus dining hall asking other students for food.

“The hardest thing for me was having to ask other students for food,” said Bela. “I feel like I should be able to provide for myself. I could go get a job and make money for myself, but in this situation I couldn’t.”

The poverty simulation was designed to help participants attempt to understand what poor people experience each day. Bela learned that living in poverty is huge daily challenge.

“It’s so hard,” said Bela. “A lot of times we don’t think about how hard it would be because we have the things we need. A lot of people don’t have those things, and they face these hardships everyday. I can’t imagine how hard it is for them.”