Wednesday, October 31, 2007

hunger banquet

On Thursday 10/18/07 we focused on poverty and hunger, and the distribution of wealth throughout the world. We started with about 10 people sharing statistics and examples of what it means to be poor in their respective countries.

In the afternoon, we walked up an old narrow road to the ruins of castle built in 1250. We had a guided tour from some local students whose teacher wanted them to practice their English. In the castle we simulated the distribution of the wealth of the world by having 100 coins on the ground. People picked up as many as they could, and we divided them by how many they ended up with. (some chose to share with those around them, as we had blindfolded some people and taped others’ hands together.) It was perfect to do this division in an old castle

Later in the afternoon we went to a monastery, and a monk spoke to the cast about his perspective on poverty in this age. Then the divisions from the castle came into effect—we broke the cast by the percentages of the world’s wealth. 15% of the people (nine cast members) were the wealthy class, 35% (22 cast members) were the middle class, and the other 50% (the remaining 34 people) were the poorest class, those in the world who struggle to have their basic needs met.

The wealthiest class sat at a dining table with real dishes and silverware, and while Jared (our lighting technician & resident expert on poverty and hunger) was sharing facts and information, Scottie & Joern began serving the top 15%. The route from the kitchen walked right through the middle class group (sitting on chairs but no table) and the poverty class, who were sitting on the floor. So Scott & Joern carried the vat of soup (which smelled delicious) to the wealthiest class, and then served salad, sautéed turkey breasts with garlic, basil and tomatoes, rice, and dessert. All through the rest of Jared’s presentation, while the majority of the cast was sitting hungrily on the floor, we heard the clinking of the wealthy class’ dishes. Once they had their main course and the presentation was complete, then the middle class went through a buffet line for a scoop of beans and of rice. The poorest class was given a bowl of rice to share, and a kettle of slightly salted water.

It was such a successful event, a powerful experience for the whole group. I loved watching the faces of the wealthy class as the food just kept coming, and so many students expressed that they were glad to have the experience of eating just rice and bad water for dinner.

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