Poverty simulation to give students different perspective on life

Lauren Verlinde, Reporter

60 minutes in someone else’s shoes could mean a whole new perspective for South Dakota State University students and community members.

The Common Read group, as well as the School of Education, Counseling and Human Development, are teaming up to present a poverty simulation to SDSU.

The simulation will assign students and community members to live in the shoes as a member of a family who lives in poverty. The simulation will last one hour. 

Kristine Ramsay Seaner, a coordinator of the simulation said, “Each 10-15 minutes spent will simulate one week of paying bills, getting groceries, getting kids to school, etc.” All the daily things a family must do to stay alive and function, the simulation will make the participants do on a strict budget. 

At the end of the simulation the participants will have spent a month living in poverty. Student Kristen Smith, who will be participating in the simulation, said she is excited for this opportunity and is anticipating how the simulation will alter her perspective and outlook on life. 

Seaner said the simulation will be unpredictable. For example, if a child in the family breaks his or her arm, the family has to round up the money it needs to pay for this unexpected hospital visit.  

The Common Read has been doing events throughout the semester, although this one is expected to have a larger turnout than the others. Seaner said they are expecting 60-80 participants, but the simulation will accommodate up to 120 people. 

“I am eager to gain a new perspective of other people’s lives and to be informed on the hardships poverty brings,” said Grace Arthur, a student at SDSU.

This poverty simulator differs from others because it will be focused on rural life, so it will be more relatable to poverty life in the Brookings area, Seaner said. 

The entire poverty simulation process will take approximately two hours total with the assessment at the beginning where participants will be assigned their roles in the family and meet with other group members. This will be followed by the actual simulation, then at the end a debrief where participants will reflect on what they encountered. 

Seaner will be accommodated by Amber Letcher, other facility and staff, students and volunteers to put on the simulator. 

The simulation will be held at 7 p.m. Nov. 3 at Griffith Honors Forum Lecture Performing Arts Center. The doors will open at 6 p.m.