On Friday, November 30th, I, along with City Year New Hampshire (CYNH) corps members woke up hungry expecting a “light breakfast” from CYNH staff. I went to sleep the night before fantasizing about muffins, bagels, juice, etc., for FREE on a day filled with training, boy was I in for a treat.
Trainings on Friday provide corps members with resources to enhance skills and ensure improvement and success in the classroom via workshops, small group collaboration and presentations by Manchester School District and City Year professionals. This past Friday, our corps had the opportunity to participate in a Hunger Banquet, an interactive demonstration that encourages the conversation about global hunger and poverty, developed by international relief and development non-profit, Oxfam America. The experience left me mentally full of knowledge regarding the distribution of wealth and the importance of education as a global citizen, but left my stomach grumbling.
As we entered the Banquet, corps members drew real names and stories of global citizens. Their stories would separate us physically and mentally into the world’s three socio-economic groups; high income, middle income and the impoverished. The wealthy 10% of the world ate an abundant breakfast at a decorated table. The middle income group, which represented 30% of the world, was organized in a circle and received just enough rice, beans and water to feed them all. I represented a female farmer from Ghana in this group and had limited access to food and water after the males in the group were served first.
To my left sat the majority of the corps in a confined and crowded corner. They were offered watery rice in cups and received what seemed to be drops of water that was supposed to be shared among the members. This group symbolized 60% of the world that included many of the countries that my students, their parents and my family and friends came from.
During the activity, I remained quiet and refused to eat because I was overwhelmed, even though I was familiar with the subject matter as a past International Affairs student. I realized I wasn’t alone in my reaction as corps members expressed their sentiments on how attempts to share food, utensils, and even exchange places during the exercise was rejected by facilitators.
The discussion on solutions reinforced my belief on the importance of education on a global scale. City Year’s service and impact has rippling affects that surpasses the fact that we have international sites. We are mentoring and tutoring diverse youth that will be the world’s future. During my service this year, I will commit to including activities on geography and cultures to enhance my students’ journeys to success which I hope will help develop my students into global citizens and support the City Year pledge of building a stronger community, nation and world for all of us.