As part of the Introduction to Social Welfare class during May Term, students took part in a poverty simulation that puts them in the position of someone living below the poverty line trying to make ends meet.
The simulation has been part of the course for more than 20 years. According to Nancy Fett (’90), LWSA, associate professor of social work, the experience is meant to educate the participants about:
- The financial pressures faced by low-income families trying to meet basic needs.
- The difficult choices people with few resources need to make each month when stretching a limited income.
- The difficulties in improving one’s situation and becoming self-sufficient on a limited income.
- The emotional stresses and frustrations created by having limited resources.
- The positive and negative impact of the social service system on people with limited resources.
- Poverty is mainly caused by social/systemic circumstances.
- What Social Services are available to persons in poverty.
For Nick Boge (’24), the simulation was eye-opening to aspects of society that he has not experienced in his life.
“This was definitely quite the experience. I couldn’t believe that there are actually other people facing these issues daily. It seemed like a dream that I don’t want to be a part of. It made me realize just how privileged I am,” he said.
Alexis Warfield (’24) also took part in the simulation and found her anxiety increasing throughout the experience.
“It truly showed all of the real struggles that people living in poverty experience every day,” she said. “To be honest, I was very stressed and nervous in that short period of time. I understand how someone living in poverty, like the stimulation we did today, has a lot of mental health conditions, physical conditions, and just a lot of stress and anxiety from not knowing where your next meal is coming from or how you’re going to pay your bills in time.”
You can view images from the poverty simulation in the gallery below.