Two billion. Two billion people on our Earth earn less than three dollars a day. This was one of the many jarring facts that was brought to the surface at HOPE International’s “Poverty Simulation” held at San Diego First Church of the Nazarene on Jan. 17. Students, professors, staff, alumni and San Diego locals joined in on these two sold-out events to learn more about specific global needs.
Once entering the Ellipses chapel, everyone was split into groups of around seven people who served as their “family” for the simulation. HOPE International’s regional representative, Holly Wylie, invited participants to “slip under the ropes of poverty” as the simulation began. Beginning with the basic points of the activity, it was made clear that although this was a game to the partakers, billions of people faced similar challenges every single day.
“God does not just sometimes consider justice, God IS justice,” Wylie said.
This 2.5-hour immersive and experiential simulation was designed as a learning opportunity to help participants symbolically experience the realities of a lifetime spent living in poverty. Each group or “family” huddled around a 2-by-2-meter tarp that served as their home for the simulation. In reality, this is the average size of an actual home within slums all around the world.
During the simulation, the “families” each created items out of newspapers that they then attempted to sell to “shopkeepers.” The ultimate goal was to support your family with food and water and pay rent for the land you resided on. Prices rose, diseases struck, charities tried to step in, personal items were sold and hours of labor were put to waste as careless leaders took charge.
“It was a really stressful event, but I do think it helped everyone get a better understanding of what it is really like to be stuck in poverty,” junior Zach Lickteig said.
Although full details cannot be disclosed due to the overall experience and outcome being given away, many participants were amazed at what they learned throughout the event and the numbers that were displayed. Over the course of the simulation, participants were confronted with a series of challenges that mimicked the complex, everyday realities that men and women living in poverty are forced to grapple with.
“I work for the Center of International Development on campus, so I have been helping plan Hope International coming,” junior Lauren Kim said. “I did not know what the simulation would entail, and so coming into it I was as blind as everyone else. Overall, it gave a lot of hands-on knowledge that I think a lot of people lack, as well as good information to come away with so that I can help educate my peers.”
After the simulation, a debrief took place as thoughts were shared and questions were answered. Many links were made between poverty, sustainability and privilege. As stated on the “take your next step” handout, Hope International’s main goal was to have participants leave with a better understanding and drive to “work together to make the issues surrounding global poverty an ongoing conversation”.