Tag Archives: poverty

How New Experiences Paint the Canvas of Your Life – Los Angeles, U.S. — The North Star Reports – by Kendra Johnson. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

How New Experiences Paint the Canvas of Your Life – Los Angeles, U.S. — The North Star Reports – by Kendra Johnson. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Cardinal Manning Center

[Photo: Cardinal Manning Center – Where we stayed.]

It’s easy to compare cities we’ve been to or have experienced before (like hometowns or frequent vacation destinations) to places we only see pictures of or hear stories about in classrooms at school. We don’t completely have a full understanding of the different lifestyles people live in various parts of the world until we experience it for ourselves. This is why I’ve wanted to study abroad for so long. Then I thought, how could I experience the world when I haven’t even experienced my own home — the United States? That’s when I decided to apply to volunteer for a mission trip during my Christmas break of 2015 to Skid Row located in Los Angeles, California. Skid Row has one of the largest homeless populations in the nation with roughly 43,000. I was a little hesitant at first but then I thought it would add experience to working with a huge variety of different people to my skill set and it would most likely come in handy when I start my nursing career.

Group 2

[Photo: Group 2 Picture- The group with our guide, Kevin, getting ready to see Skid Row.]

Our group, which consisted of 11 St. Scholastica students and two group leaders, had two meetings to get to know one another before heading to the other end of the country to arguably one of the most famous cities in the nation.

Day one: When we first arrived the first thing we all noticed was the beautiful sunny weather and palm trees. It was a nice change from the -50° weather in Minnesota we had left just a few hours before. We wasted no time making our way through the streets of L.A. with our suitcases rolling down the sidewalks in one hand and our cameras in the other. As we kept heading to where we would eventually stay for the duration of our trip, the areas kept getting dirtier and reluctantly made us more cautious of our surroundings. From one building or house to the next it was impossible not to notice the consistency of vandalism and graffiti. Garbage lined the sidewalks and streets like nothing I had ever seen before. I think this is when we all realized the next eight days would have a significant impact on our lives.

Group 4

[Photo: Group 4 Picture- Doing food prep at Midnight Mission (the three of us were assigned to crack eggs).]

We eventually made it to our temporary home. We stayed at The Cardinal Manning Center in the heart of Skid Row. Cardinal Manning is a homeless shelter for men and roughly 40-50 men stay there each night. The center has a comprehensive program that helps men transition off the streets and into housing through transitional housing and intensive case management services. It was refreshing to hear a homeless center that actually helps people try to make a living for themselves and get them off the streets instead of giving them shelter for a little while and sending them away. They really do care about trying to shrink the growing homeless population by teaching the men lifelong skills and giving them opportunities they wouldn’t be able to find by themselves. After we toured the center, learned more about it, and set up our mattresses in the conference room, we had dinner with the guys staying there. It was intimidating at first because some of the guys were very shy and didn’t want to chat with us but some could go on and on for hours about their life. We heard so many different stories from so many different guys. By the end of the night, I realized that instead of coming in with preconceived ideas already painted on a canvas, I should approach new experiences with a blank canvas instead and paint it as I learn more through the new experiences. Every single person I talked to had a completely different story and they each taught me something I had never known before about things such as homelessness, Skid Row, Los Angeles, faith, life, and much more.

We ended the night with a group reflection about what we had experienced already after just the first day and this grew to be one of my favorite parts of the trip. It gave us all the opportunity to hear stories and things other people noticed or experienced throughout the day that we ourselves might have missed. While reflecting, I felt I was able to re-experience the day in a completely different way and that added to the overall impact this trip had on me and my perspectives on things.

Group 7

[Photo: Group 7 Picture- We kept dropping the egg shells in the pot because our gloves were so slippery that they gave us this tool to fish out the lost shells.]

Day two: Once we all awoke, had breakfast, and got ready for the day, we went to the main lobby area to wait for our tour guide that would eventually show us around Skid Row. We were all anxious, nervous, and excited about experiencing our first full day in Los Angeles. Our tour guide, Kevin, arrived and he told us something to put our awaited adventure into perspective and help ease our nerves about Skid Row. He told us not to be afraid of anyone or anything even though it may look and seem like a scary place. The people living there are the same as us and the only difference between us is where we lay our head at night. Skid Row is not a dangerous place and any preconceived notations otherwise should be disregarded.

As we wandered up and down Skid Row, we had to be very aware of the things around us. We were told not to step on any garbage along the sidewalks or in any puddles because it wasn’t water; it was urine. Because of how dirty it was, the smell wasn’t the best either. We walked past cardboard boxes and tents that had an overwhelming scent of marijuana and other drugs along with feces and more urine. It was something that we certainly weren’t used to experiencing back home in Minnesota. Even with the different sights and smells, we were greeted most of the time with a smile and hello. Kevin was right. They were for the most part welcoming, respectful, and just like any random stranger you’d meet back home. It was amazing to experience this because it was nothing like what we were expecting.

We ended the tour at another shelter we were going to volunteer at called Midnight Mission. Here we would help out in the Kitchen and complete food prep for dinner later that night. But first, we got a tour and were able to learn more about the history of the shelter and what they do. Another new thing I learned was how different homeless shelters are from one another. I had always thought they were relatively the same but their mission statements, service programs, and demographic of whom they primarily reached out to set them apart from others. Once we were actually volunteering at the different shelters it was easy to see the similarities and differences between each of them. After our food prep was done we headed back to Cardinal Manning (which was about a 15 minute walk) to end our day with dinner with the guys and our nightly reflection. We went to bed with full hearts and excitement for what the next day would bring us.

Group 10

[Photo: Group 10 Picture- One of our many bus rides around L.A.]

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal’s online learning community and outreach program with undergraduate and K-12 classes around the world. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, Colombia, Norway, northeastern China, Nicaragua, Micronesia, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, El Salvador, England, Finland, Russia, Cyprus, and Haiti. We also publish student reviews of books, documentaries, and films, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers. We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica.

Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Review of the Documentary Living on One Dollar— The North Star Reports – by Ellie Swanson. Sponsored by The College of St. Scholastica and The Middle Ground Journal

Review of the Documentary Living on One Dollar. 2013. By Chris Temple, Zach Ingrasci, Sean Leonard, and Ryan Christofferson.

Living-On-One

[Film poster from: http://uocal.uottawa.ca/en/node/11166 ]

Poverty. One dollar a day. Microfinance. Malnutrition. These words are used frequently during conversations about global poverty and international development. But what do these words really mean? What do they look like in real life? College students Zach Ingrasci and Chris Temple set out on a mission to find out for themselves. In their documentary Living on One Dollar, Ingrasci and Temple, along with two film students, agree to live on one dollar a day—internationally accepted as the extreme poverty line—in Pena Blañca, Guatemala, a small village where many people work as farm laborers for about a dollar a day. The team documents their attempt to live as authentically as possible on their meager income for 52 days, while also researching how their neighbors survive and plan their finances with so little to work with.

What a photographer’s micro lens is to his wide-angle shot, this documentary is to overarching discussions of poverty and development. The producers take us for a close, intimate look at how poverty plays out in the lives of real people. Malnutrition, lack of money for education and health care, lack of clean water, and lack of savings in case of disaster: these are the challenges that living on one dollar a day presents.

As Temple and Ingrasci embed themselves in village life and make friends, we begin to see these challenges come to life. Inquisitive, friendly, twelve-year-old Chico, has resigned himself, already, to a life as a farm laborer—working long, hard hours for an income that will barely sustain his family in the future. We meet Rosa, who has to defer her dream of attending school because there isn’t enough money for school fees. Such stories abound, but the film presents reasons to hope. The students explore how gaining access to credit and a savings plan via microfinance banks can aid families in earning more income. Rosa utilizes this type of system and is able to pay her school fees so she may continue to study. Additionally, Temple and Ingrasci stumble upon a unique way of communal savings that their neighbors utilize, in which each member in turn benefits from the collective savings, which is substantially more than each would be able to save alone. This is one of the more ingenious ways of survival Temple and Ingrasci discover but not the only example.

Along with ingenuity, they find warmth, generosity, curiosity, hardship, misery—hard lives led by hardened, yet generous people. They also discover that living on one dollar a day is something they were not prepared for, nor is it a lifestyle they would like to continue. But the point of their experiment is clear: life at this income level is hard and dangerous. Ultimately, Living on One Dollar asks us to imagine what it would be like to not have enough food, to not have access to health care when ill, and to not have the money to send a child to school. The perspective and the individual stories the viewer experience are what make Living on One Dollar an educational and moving documentary.

For more information, see:

http://livingonone.org/about/
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2625598/

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our program. We also welcome Duluth East High School and other schools around the world. The North Star Reports has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

The North Star Reports publishes edited essays from our students, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Students have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing reviews of books, documentaries, and films, projects on historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and analysis of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches, and report on their interactions with the North Star Reports students and teachers.

We thank The Department of History and Politics and the School of Arts and Letters of The College of St. Scholastica for their generous financial support for The North Star Reports and The Middle Ground Journal.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org The NSR is sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal and The College of St. Scholastica. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact chief editor Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Haiti, Children, School, and Important Lessons — The North Star Project Reports, sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal. By Dennika Mays

Haiti_%28orthographic_projection%29

Haiti, Children, School, and Important Lessons — The North Star Project Reports, sponsored by The Middle Ground Journal. By Dennika Mays

On January 12, 2012, I went on a trip to Haiti. I stayed there for 4 months as part of a study abroad trip that I created myself. I had the opportunity to travel all around the country and even went to the Dominican Republic for a day. Haiti has so many palm trees, people, and all different types of food. Most of the people I met in Haiti were very nice to me. They would always greet me with a “Bonswa, madam” [Good day, miss] or “Bonwi, madam” [Good evening, miss] and a bright smile. I also visited a few different schools around the country and met many children in Haiti. The children in Haiti have to wear uniforms to school, and each school has a different color scheme. For example, some schools have a blue and white color scheme, while other schools wear brown and orange colors. Each school is different. Every day after school, kids walk home, and I would see the many different colors of all of their uniforms. After staying a while in Haiti, I could tell which school a kid attended by simply looking at the colors on his or her uniform.

Many kids in Haiti can afford to go to school, but there are also students who don’t have to money to go. These children  stay at home and help with chores around the house. I met many kids in Haiti who can’t read or write because they didn’t have enough money to pay for school fees and a uniform. But the President of Haiti has been working hard to get poor kids in school so they can have an education and a good meal. The President in Haiti started a school program for kids who can’t afford to go to school and now hundreds of kids are in the program.

Seeing the children of Haiti made me think about growing up as a kid in the U.S. My family was poor and didn’t always have money for food, but the education system had a program for my family and I was able to attend school and have a good lunch. Seeing many poor kids in Haiti reminded me of myself growing up, and it made me grateful for everything I have now. I now have clothes, food, running water, electricity, and access to education. I didn’t always have those things and living in Haiti reminded me of that. It also reminded me to always be grateful for everything I have because I know what it’s like to live without things like running water, electricity, heating, air condition, and food.

Photo (map) credit: “Haiti (orthographic projection)” by Connormah – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Haiti_(orthographic_projection).svg#mediaviewer/File:Haiti_(orthographic_projection).svg

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to contribute to The North Star Project Reports — HLIANG@CSS.EDU

For all of the North Star Project Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/

The North Star Project Reports: The Middle Ground Journal’s collaborative outreach program with K-12 classes around the world. We acknowledge North Star Academy of Duluth, Minnesota as our inaugural partner school, and the flagship of our K-12 outreach program. We also welcome Duluth East High School, Duluth Denfeld High School, Dodge Middle School and other schools around the world to the North Star Project. The North Star Project has flourished since 2012. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:

http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/january-2014/embracing-oa-universities-adopt-open-access-policies-for-faculty-journal-publications

The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. Student interns have reported from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world. We will post their dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star Project students and teachers.

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA

(c) 2013-present The Middle Ground Journal. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.

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Filed under North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang