ACES: Poverty Simulation


Alyssa Donnelly, Arts & Life Assistant Editor

14% of families in Storm Lake, Iowa fall under the poverty line, and over 40 million families in the United States experience low income circumstances.

Tuesday February 27, 2017, a poverty simulation took place on Buena Vista University’s campus. This event gave students hands on learning by using names of families in the community who live with low income. Each student who arrived was given a name of a person living in bottom line poverty levels. This helped educate students on their future after college, while also generating sympathy to serve and help others in the community.

AmeriCorps Civic Engagement Coordinator Sarah Callihan wanted to use this activity to educate students to get a real life sense of what families go through monthly.

“I wanted students to kind of understand what families of low-income and poverty situations go through every month,”  said Callihan. “While this was only for an hour or two I think while they realize listening to their discussions that families go through this all the time.”

In addition to understanding poverty in the world, a first-time student attendee had interesting thoughts about her experience as well. Junior social work major Ema Enriquez walked in open-minded, but was not sure what to expect from the ACES event.

“I did not expect to learn about the costs out there that you don’t really think about and some that are random ones, like we had a random broken window card that costs 55 dollars to fix, and then just random things coming at you that you really don’t think to account in real life,” Enriquez said.

Besides having better knowledge on low-income families and poverty this simulation gave you the chance to understand different skills that are helpful to learn individually. Budgeting, communication, and planning were the main ideas of making strategizing easier in these circumstances.

“It helped me learn that you need to communicate with all members of your family when it comes to budgeting,” Enriquez said. “This definitely also gives you a lot more empathy. You know you don’t really dismiss things as much as you would use to and it kind of gives you more motivation to go out there and help, because they need it.”

Society seems to look pass these people. Understanding the seriousness of poverty is the purpose of this event. Having more students attend every year as well as get out into the community and engage was the main target for this event.

Sarah Callihan highly insists more students attend future ACES dealing with societal issues, like social and economic justice, and working against families in poverty.

“I like to see more people come, because this is such a dire situation in our country right now and because I was doing research in the weeks prior and approximately 1.3 billion people in the world are in a situation where they live on a dollar a day,” said Callihan. “So, just to have more students come and participate would be great, and to do more in the community.”

If you are interested in working towards social and economic justice, or working against poverty, contact these organizations: Student M.O.V.E President Amanda Miley or Advisor Ashley Farmer-Hanson. Students Association of Social Workers (SASW) Presidents Emily VanDonselaar and Kaitlyn Werner. Any other associates or organizations can contact AmeriCorps Vista Sarah Callihan via email [email protected].