I am a part of the new Real World Problem Solving class. This semester, we have been studying global poverty and all of the contributing factors of it, including hunger, health care, lack of education and gender inequalities.
On Oct. 21, my class, joined with the companion class from Webster University, headed south to the Heifer Ranch in Perryville, AR, for a life-changing experience: poverty.
“Even if it was just a little glimpse of what people go through everyday, it was very inspirational and influential,” senior Tyler Benbow said.
We worked for hours with inadequate tools. We cooked our own meals over fires we made. We slept in 38 degree weather with very little shelter. While it was all extremely challenging, it also opened our eyes to the harsh reality.
“The most heartbreaking realization was directly related to our sleeping conditions,” senior Bella DeArmitt said. “Our class was advised to pack warm clothes, a cold weather sleeping bag and extra socks. Despite it all we were still freezing at night. After returning, all I can do is think about the unhoused individuals sleeping in colder conditions with less protection from the cold. It’s heartbreaking.”
“It was enlightening,” senior Rosie Ryan added. “We were in conditions that we are not normally in, but we were still in really good conditions. We had shelter and blocks from the wind, sleeping bags and layers, while unhoused people sometimes just have a T-shirt and jeans.”
Although we were only there for a few days, and we had the hope of coming back home to keep our spirits up, I feel that after this experience my class and I have a much better understanding of what it is like to be an unhoused individual. I truly believe that everyone should go through this program to be able to empathize with those less fortunate and to really understand privileges and inequalities; it was transformative.
This is Eleanor Marshall’s second year on ECHO staff, but she made several contributions while taking journalism class her sophomore year. She has been recognized for her work by JournalismSTL, MJEAand MIPA.
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