NDSU Students Walk in the Shoes of Low-Income People with a Poverty Simulation

NDSU is simulating an experience for its students to better understand the struggles low-income people are living with

FARGO, N.D. — More than 45 million Americans are living in poverty and nearly half the population is trying to live on less than $2.50 per day.

NDSU is simulating an experience for its students to better understand the struggles low-income people are living with. The university provided participants with a new identity to role-play and walk in the shoes of someone in poverty.

“The simulation is an opportunity for students to go through real life situations, real life stories of people that live at, or below, or above the poverty line and then utilizing resources in the community to be successful in paying their bills or covering the cost of utilities or feeding and providing for their family,” event organizer Frank Oakgrove said.

The role each participant gets at the beginning of the seminar is given at random and may vary from a single parent living paycheck to paycheck or….

“They may be an elderly grandparent that has some health concerns or mobility challenges and has to navigate what that might look like for them, whether that’s a burden to the family or not or maybe felt like a burden,” Oakgrove explained.

The goal, organizers say, is to shed light on some of the misconceptions surrounding poverty-stricken people.

“I think we have this Mid-West mentality that you pull yourself up by the boot straps, but when you feel like society or some of the systems are working against you even though you’re fighting really hard to provide for your family and no matter how hard you fight sometimes it still doesn’t allow you the opportunity to be successful,” added Oakgrove.

The simulation has stations set up, such as mock grocery stores, public schools, and social services. Using those resources, each person will experience the hardships of keeping up with daily responsibilities.

NDSU holds this poverty simulation twice a year. This semester they also opened it up to students and faculty at Concordia.

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