Simulation to give students a better understanding of poverty

Zachary Smith, Staff Writer

A simulation that will let students experience poverty in America will occur at Wilkes University on Nov. 14.

The simulation will allow students to get first-hand experience in dealing with many of the facets of poverty that they might not have had to deal with before in their lives. During the simulation, students will take on various roles in a low income family, and try to survive a simulated month-to-month experience.

Erica Acosta, Associate Director for Diversity Initiatives, hopes that the simulation will give students the opportunity to see, feel and navigate a system that they might not otherwise have to deal with in their lives.

“It’s a great eye opener,” Acosta said. “Students might have to deal with low income families in their chosen profession. With this simulation they can get a better idea of how to help them, what their resources are and what you can expect.”

Executive Director for the Center of Global Diversity at Wilkes, Georgia Costalas, had previously run through the simulation.

“I was very impressed with how it made me feel lost, it destroyed my self confidence,” Costalas said. “It was very insightful way to look at how others have to face certain situations.”

While details regarding the actual simulation are kept secret until the actual event occurs, Acosta did want to stress the point that while it is fun, it is a simulation, not a game.

“There is no competitive aspect; it is a learning experience that will give people something to take away from it,” Acosta explained.

The simulation will run for roughly two hours and will include a question and answer session immediately following the event, which will allow students to share their experiences and get answers to any questions they might have. Counseling sessions will also be available for any students that get overwhelmed by the simulation.

The event is part of Diversity International week, which goes on from Nov. 14 to Nov. 17. Diversity International week is sponsored by the office of Diversity Affairs and The Latin American Student Association Club.

The simulation is looking for various essential positions to be filled including a police officer, a utility collector, a pawnbroker, a grocer, a mortgage or rent collector, a quick cash manager, two social service caseworkers, a social service receptionist, community action worker- preferably someone who has had real-life experience in this role, an employer, a child care worker, a school teacher, a faith-based agency staffer and a bank or loan collector.

There is also 30 to 80 student volunteers needed.

The caseworkers will need to have some command of pertinent facts and information. Familiarity or experience with a local social service office is highly desirable.

The simulation is still in need of multiple volunteers. If any students would like more information regarding the event, or are interested to find out how they can volunteer to help, they are asked to contact Erica Acosta at [email protected]