Poverty simulation proves to be eye-opener for Bonner students

Bonner scholars attended an event which gave participants a glimpse of what it is like to live in poverty in American communities.

Noah Syverson, Viking Fusion Reporter

Reanna Huskey hadn’t planned on getting into a fist-fight with her best friend. But when someone steals your imaginary EBT (electronic benefit transfer) card during a virtual poverty simulation? You take action.

“I jumped her. I straight-up tackled her to the ground. I really hope they didn’t catch that on video,” sophomore Huskey said.

The poverty simulation, put on by the Bonner Scholars Program, was designed to help Bonner scholar students understand the challenges faced by people who may not have the same resources they do, in the words of Laurie Chandler, Director of the Bonner Center for Community Engagement.

“We know it’s a simulation, we know that there are parts of it that may seem ridiculous and not real, but it’s our attempt to have our students think about, as they’re doing their Bonner work, what it is the families and the clients that they’re working with in their various non-profit agencies may be experiencing in daily life,” Chandler said.

Each of the approximate eighty students participating was given a hypothetical “family” or “lot in life” as they came in the door to the Krannert Ballroom on January 23.

Huskey was assigned the role of an unemployed woman living with her partially paralyzed mother and taking care of her teenage daughter. All while attempting to provide for her “family” over the course of a “month;” which, in actuality, was an hour broken up into fifteen-minute “weeks.”

Faculty members manned tables around the edges of Krannert Ballroom, representing various resources such as child care and public transportation. Throughout the simulation, “families” traveled around paying various bills to keep from being “evicted.”

While the current format allows for only Bonner students to be participants in simulation hosted every four years, Chandler says there have been talks with faculty members about doing another simulation that would be open to sections of the student body interested in community service.

For Huskey, the night provided important insight into the lives of the impoverished. She was completely invested in the decisions and struggles of the woman she was portraying. So, after becoming a victim of theft, her first response was to fight the thief.

“They told us to make this as real as possible, and in a real situation, if someone were to steal my debit card, credit card, EBT, whatever it may be, I would jump them in a heartbeat,” Huskey said, smiling.

Leave a Reply