On the evening of November 19th, Seattle University students, faculty, and friends engaged a unique micro-immersion experience, hosted by the School of Theology and Ministry's Faith & Family Homelessness Project--a "Poverty Immersion Workshop." Based on the Missouri Community Action group's poverty simulation--a reputable and widely-studied way of teaching about poverty--the workshop created space for experiential learning, a methodology found useful for classes and groups grappling with the topics and themes of poverty, inequality, or social justice. The workshop was additionally sponsored by Seattle University's Office of Mission and Ministry, Mateo Ricci College and Strategic Communications Department.
(Photos below.) Upon arrival, participants were each assigned a role within one of 26 “families.” After a short wait, participants were invited to enter the workshop space and find their family members and homes. Twenty trained volunteers waited at their stations, ready to play the roles of social workers, teachers, employers, police, landlords and bankers. The workshop facilitator carefully explained the afternoon’s “rules.” One 15-minute session equaled one week for the family, and a set of tasks were to be completed within that week. Tasks included keeping family members housed and fed. Children were required to attend school, and infants could not be left unattended. Transportation passes had to be used when moving between appointments. Businesses like the employment office, banks and social services were only open for set hours, with no flexibility. Throughout the evening, participants experienced were exposed to some of the very real challenges faced by individuals with limited resources. To read a participants take on the experience, via an article published in Seattle's "Real Change", click here.
For more info on the Faith & Family Homelessness Project, see here.
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