Thursday, January 26, LaGrange College graduate students gathered at the Troup County Baptist Association to participate in Circles of Troup County’s poverty simulation.
As a non-profit organization focused on poverty alleviation, Director Sherri Brown and her Circles volunteers know how to create a one-hour program that allows participants to comprehend the exhausting, scary reality of poverty.
From utility bills and childcare expenses to unemployment and house evictions, students were placed in family units and forced to survive with little money and even littler resources.
The simulation was broken down into a mock four-week timeframe, and with each week that went by, the stress level between students grew. Week one was lighthearted as participants giggled their way through making payments and finding work; week two was slightly more focused as participants learned that showing up late for work has serious consequences; week three became intense as money shortages caused people to steal and undercut one another; and by week four, many students found themselves homeless or were sent to jail.
One graduate student, Olivia Wolfe, joined the poverty simulation as a part of her Education of Cultural Diversity class for her Master’s of Education program. She shared her experience and takeaways from the simulation: “I thought that the simulation was a great idea for us as a class – and really anyone else – to take part in and experience what people in poverty experience every day. I had no idea that it would be so frustrating and difficult to do the simple and everyday tasks that myself, my family, and other middle class families do. It was very eye-opening, and I feel like it will help me so much in the future when I’m teaching to be more compassionate and understanding with my students and their families.”
Circles continues hosting poverty simulations for a variety of businesses, schools, churches, and organizations in hopes that everyone takes away the eye-opening experience that Wolfe had. Poverty isn’t always a result of laziness and poor choices. Sometimes, life simply happens and people find themselves with no money and no resources to survive. Poverty plays no favorites and cuts no slack, and for many, it is an inescapable reality.
May we as a community remember that we are not blessed to judge others, but, rather, we are blessed to be a blessing to those in need.
Peyton Hanners Staff Writer