the laid.back Buddhist has MOVED...back!

Wednesday, October 29

In Defense of an AV system

Ooooh, this woman makes my teeth grind:

"While I know why you want to have a band play, I find it interesting that you want to do this while you are supposed to be experiencing what it’s like to be homeless."

Coming from the person overseeing this program? Yeah, thank you for missing the point entirely.

Call me crazy, but I don't believe much benefit is going to come from my students (I'm a facilitator for a group of Social Justice leadership students) only being "homeless" for just one night.

Plus, the purpose of this engaging leadership program is NOT simply "doing" the service, granted that is an important part of the experience. The overall goal is for students to proactively take the initiative on an issue--that's where the bulk of the learning process is going to come from.

Their true objectives are:

1. Promoting awareness about homelessness in the community/campus
2. Raising $,$$$ to donate to the local nonprofit
3. Getting canned food donations

I mean, seriously now. Who's gonna come watch a bunch college students sleep out all night? What are those people going to take away from it besides, "Oh, they're pretending to be homeless...haha and whoop-dee-doo." Perhaps the more important issue is what does experiencing homelessness actually do for the 400 people applying for assistance from our local nonprofit who had to get turned away on the second day? Tell me that.

Besides the only reason they are going to be camping out on the Drillfield from 7 PM to 7 AM on a Friday night is because people are pledging a dollar for every hour they're "homeless." You know, sort of like Relay For Life held annually in the spring at my university. Bands attract attention (not to mention they are donating their time to a good cause) and sponsors help get the community involved.

Because when the speaker from the nonprofit, the bands, the friends stopping by for moral support, and food from sponsors are all gone by midnight (perhaps even earlier)'ll just be a group of 17 college students all by themselves in freezing 20-30 degree weather. For the entire night.

Try that for a learning experience.

So tomorrow? Damned if I don't finagle my way into getting my students their AV system.

1 Musing(s):

Anonymous said...

You're right. If you're only going "homeless" for one night, you're not fully experiencing what it's like to be homeless. When the night's over, you get to go home. So, it's more like camping than any realistic feeling of what it's really like to be homeless and knowing that, when you get up in the morning, you still don't have a place to go. There's no shower, no change of clothes, no warm bed to look forward to.

Frankly, I think the "experiencing homelessness" part is of little value. I've been outside in the freezing cold for an hour or two before; that's sufficient for me to know that being homeless isn't good. I can imagine, while at the same time not fully appreciate, what it is to be homeless. In any case, whether you spend an hour or 12 hours in the cold, you still have a place to go at the end of it and you know where your next meal is coming from. Homeless people don't. So, while you may experience the elements, you don't experience the hopelessness or concerns that are associated with it.

So the value, I think, is in the fundraising and raising awareness and getting the food donations. So, get the band and the sponsors and get people out there!

For a more meaningful experience with a lasting impression, it'd be better for the students to actually interact with homeless people. Seeing and hearing what actual homeless people have gone through and continue to go through will surely be a greater learning experience than hanging out with your friends on a cold night, pretending to be homeless.

Winston Churchill