“This is very emotional for me. I left home when I was 17 years-old and got pregnant shortly after,” a participant said after Chemeketa’s most recent poverty simulation. “I have lived the desperation I saw in this room. I was trying to go to school with two children. I still remember going to the social services office and begging for help and not getting it. It’s sad things haven’t changed. It’s heart wrenching.”
On June 13, Chemeketa and SAIF Corporation employees participated in the Poverty Simulation, a four-hour experience where participants are assigned to be members of a family living in poverty. The room is set up as a community where everyone is given roles to play and instructions for navigating four weeks in their new lives. At the end, participants are guided to debrief their experience.
There were many takeaways. One participant said, “Can you imagine what it is like to have to worry about transportation, housing, daycare, food and electricity? Then we ask ourselves why some students are not engaged in their education. We need to give people grace.”
A person who participated as a service provider added, “As social services provider, I thought I had everything to help make a difference, but at the end, many of the people I saw everyday didn’t make it. I also had five families that never came to see me. Maybe they didn’t have transportation or didn’t know how to navigate the system.”
“This simulation shows how important transportation is. I think about students who are given wrong information or get the run around,” said another participant. “My family (in the simulation) had to choose between transportation and food.”
Chemeketa staff and faculty talked about ways they can and do help to make a difference –
- A faculty member distributes a list of resources to all of her students in the beginning of every class
- A staff member reminded everyone about Chemeketa STEPS program, which helps pregnant and parenting students navigate support services.
- Have you heard of 211? You can call 211 from any phone to ask to be connected with local resources, or visit www.211.org
- The Chemeketa Student Planner and Handbook also contains a list of resources
- Chemeketa.edu has resources for students as well as for Veterans
Mark your calendars, the next simulation is scheduled for September 11, 2019. More information to come.