Elizabethtown, Pa- Earlier this month Elizabethtown College hired the Community Action Partnership to come and set up a poverty simulation as an enriching and rewarding experience for students.
This event was held in the KAV and is an encompassing simulation of what a day looks like in the shoes of an impoverished person.
In a little over an hour, students are assigned “families” and are given a brief description of what their life journey has looked like so far. They are then put in high-stress situations and must figure out how to do daily tasks with little to no resources.
Students broken into their simulation “families.” Photo courtesy of Sharon Sherick.
There were various agencies set up along the perimeter of the simulation to enhance the experience for the students. Based on their assigned situations, students can utilize these agencies to complete a daily task such as picking up their child from “daycare” or even going to “work.” The structure of the simulation was meant to emphasize what it might be like to live a day in poverty and set up the most realistic exposure possible.
This assisted in the students’ involvement in becoming familiar with resources to help those who are in need, including how shelters operate and how to find transportation when you need to be somewhere.
Participants were also able to exercise positive decision-making skills when under pressure and in need. Furthermore, the students were able to benefit through a group setting while learning how to utilize help from the community when one is in a time of need.
Sharon Sherick is a program coordinator at the Center for Community and Civic Engagement at Elizabethtown College and oversaw the organizing and planning of this event.
Sherick had the to participate in several poverty simulations. “I took it years ago, and it was so impactful for me” Sherick said.
She explained how it gave the students the chance to truly sympathize for others in positions similar to theirs in the simulation. Sherick felt that this would be a great event to bring to the college because of its many benefits along with the realistic experience it provided.
Participant working with a caseworker in the simulation. Photo courtesy of Sharon Sherick.
Meghan Matje was a participant and has had the chance to attend the event twice now. Taking from both experiences, Matje praised how useful the resources provided truly are.
“You get a glimpse of what it looks like to walk in another person’s shoes” Matje said.
Those who participated in the simulation all felt that it was a stressful but very rewarding event overall. Tess Straight was another student participant and was able to speak on the benefits the program puts on perspective and sympathy for others.
“It makes you realize we don’t look at things from others’ perspective” Straight said.
The simulation was so realistic that many benefits had to be processed over a short amount of time. For many this included moments participants could reflect on the appreciation they had for the opportunity that was made available to them. It was a reminder that neighbors can help neighbors when reality is opened up and sympathy is shown.
Elizabethtown College Hosts Poverty Simulation for Students
Photos Found Above.