What is it like to genuinely be hungry and why are farmers among the most hungry? Why is hunger worse in certain areas in the world than others? How are those in poverty trying to get out of hunger and what can you do to help? These were all questions that were answered during the Engagements to the Common Good (ECG) communication learning community’s class simulation for Cabrini Day.
The theme for this year’s Cabrini Day was “Food Matters.” The ECG 100 class held an interactive presentation called “The Path out of Hunger” which took place on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at the Dixon Center, where students advocated for those living in poverty.
“We’re trying to show that people can progress out of very difficult situations and so we picked a village in Kenya that has been making remarkable progress getting out of very desperate poverty to where they can become a self-sustaining village,” Dr. Jerry Zurek, a professor in the communication department, said.
According to Michelle Guerin, a senior digital communication major and classroom coach for the learning community, hunger is a global issue that affects places all around the world. It is not just an issue in developing countries, which is a common misunderstanding, as it is also in more developed nations such as the U.S. and is an issue that can touch any location.
Guerin added that the simulation is specifically for the areas in Kenya and Ghana and provides background information about world hunger as well as highlight the root causes and explain how people are born into poverty. It also discusses what resources they need, such as seeds and soil, how people can fall into a poverty trap, steps out of the trap and advocacy.
“The simulation kind of walks through how there is a poverty trap and what different resources they need to get out of that poverty trap and then different techniques they’ve made in their own community on how to get out of that trap,” she said.
One of the problems of hunger is that people are under the belief that it is due to laziness, when that is not the case. Many people are born into hunger or live in less developed countries that lack the resources and materials needed to provide for its people. It creates a cycle of poverty that can be difficult to get out of.
Alexa Bojorquez, a freshman communication major and member of the LC, was very passionate about the topic and felt that it was important to spread awareness on this issue and educate others.
“We are trying to get a message across saying that there is this misconception that these farmers aren’t trying enough and they actually are; it’s just the agricultural advances that we’ve had in America haven’t been placed in their country because they don’t have a developed country,” Bojorquez said.
“There’s programs that we help with but not really for long term solutions and we’re trying to show that these people are fighting for long term solutions and not just short term,” Bojorquez added.
The simulation took a lot of hard work and planning ahead of time in order to work together as a class. Through their presentation, the students were able to demonstrate everything that they had learned over the course of the semester and allowed the students to become the educators.
According to Zurek, the process began with the class reading with the book, “The Last Hunger Season,” that they studied throughout September and October.
“We tried to pick out scenes from the book that kind of represent the first stage of desperate hunger, then first steps out of hunger [and] then permanent steps out of hunger and then of course finishing it up with advocacy,” Zurek said.
Erica Zebrowski, a freshman communication major and member of the LC, believes that the message of the simulation was very important and that the process involved a lot of work but that it was also a fun and enlightening experience.
According to Bojorquez, the process to prepare for the simulation took a couple of meetings and involved getting everyone together on the same page. It was a really big simulation with a big message to share in a small amount of time to get the point across.
Both Bojorquez and Zebrowski feel that they have learned a lot over the course of the semester and that reading the book and doing the research for this project was very informative. Both believe that they have grown from this experience and will be more conscious about issues like this.
“There are people out there that are still suffering and yes we can learn about it and we can talk about it but we need to take action and we need to advocate for those people,” Zebrowski said.
“It is a big issue and it most likely will always be an issue unless we really actually do something about it,” she added.
“It’s important to understand what people’s lives are like, but then what is the role of US citizens in advocating to our representatives in Congress to make sure that we help give that little extra boost so that people can get on the ladder of progress out of hunger,” Zurek said.