GSU students to view what life of poverty means

Sarah Ryniker

Georgia Southern University’s Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement will host a Poverty Simulation Monday at 5 p.m. to educate students about how those in poverty live.

The event is divided into two groups; agency members and participants will go through the simulation.

“It’s a chance to experience poverty on a small scale. Banks, DFCS, Food Stamps and other organizations will be represented,” Beth Anne Mathis, graduate assistant for the Office of Student Leadership and Civil Engagement, said.

“It does provide a real eye awakening to what some families go through everyday.  I always hope people are challenged to do something after they participate in a simulation,” Irene Denmark, prevention education consultant for First District Regional Educational Service Agency, said.

There are more homeless in Statesboro than most people realize, Mathis said.

From 2006-2010, 46.6 percent of residents in Statesboro lived under the poverty line, according to www.census.gov.

“Most people don’t know there is a large homeless population living behind Moe’s in Statesboro,” Mathis said. “It’s a rampant issue.”

Volunteers have expressed interest in taking on roles for both groups.

“We need about 40 participants, and so far there has been some interest for both sides,” Mathis said.

“At the end of the simulation all participants engage in a debriefing session; students will get to share how they experienced the simulation,” Denmark said.

“(Students) discuss the challenges they faced during this process, and at the conclusion they are asked to discuss ways they can help families in their own communities,” Denmark said.

This event is part of a larger week entitled “Social Justice Week.” Events include Social Issues Night and Shop for the Hungry. In the past, these events were known as “Hunger and Homeless Week.”

“You can’t cover all these issues in one night,” Mathis said.

“I’m passionate not only about the cause but educating people about how they can be a part of it,” Mathis said.

The poverty reenactment is a great way to open students’ eyes to the issues of modern day poverty, Amandla Adams, volunteer and freshman political science major, said.

“It’s to help people see the seriousness in it, and it seems fun to get to act it out,” Adams said.

Adams will portray a drug lord in the simulation who preys on young children and people who are alone.

“It’s really horrible. Drugs are in movies and shows, but it really does put families in jeopardy,” Adams said.

Students should focus on other issues while in college as well, Adams said.

“Many students at GSU do volunteer their time in the Bulloch County area,” Denmark said.

“I want students to find out what they are passionate about and help them get involved,” Mathis said.

Mathis encourages students to step outside the university.

Mathis said, “For students, it’s easy to get caught up. You need to intentionally step out. Don’t get caught in the bubble of Georgia Southern.”