Some answers for the people of Siete de Abril

Taking the Two Dollar Challenge and living on $2 a day this year has been a significantly different experience for me than last year.  Last year, I reflected primarily on my personal experiences during that week.  Quite simply, I was caught off guard by the emotional and physical discomforts that attended the challenge (see Challenge Blogs 2007).  These discomforts monopolized my every waking moment during the challenge.  This year, however, I have had the chance to reflect upon the challenge as a whole.  Why do we take this challenge?  What are its limitations? What is its value?  On net is it worthwhile?

First for the drawbacks: some students seem to game the system.  They see what they can get away with.  That is obviously not the point of the challenge.  So, maybe it should not be titled a challenge maybe it should be titled an experience. 

1. Is it all about being uncomfortable – both physically and emotionally.  And, if so, what is the value in that discomfort?   We know that we get to exit this discomfort.  This discomfort can be read about – talked about – but I feel confident stating that it will resonate more when it is felt, when it is experienced.

3. A lot of steps during the day – is this allowed?  the pots and pans we use to boil water are not proscribed/the utensils we use to eat our food are not proscribed/the toilet paper/hell the toilet/

2. By simply taking the challenge, we spread awareness about poverty to those that are close to us – family, friends, and colleagues.  They witness our behavioral changes: becoming more cautious, spending more time planning out our meals, getting upset over what would previously be considered a non-issue, and maybe our diminished willingness to share some of our temporarily limited resources.  It spreading awareness, raising funds, and acting upon the awareness we generate.  I do not want to overstate this at all…taking the Two Dollar Challenge does and will not change the world.  But, it does and will modify (however minutely) the world view of its participants.  Something that cannot necessarily be said about alternative teaching tools at my disposal.

Just a final thought, about those choosing to live on two dollars a day.  These are young people who before choosing to take the two dollar challenge are under an enormous amount of pressure – they are two weeks removed from finals – two weeks in which they are completing research papers and giving presentations – yet, they continued through the challenge because they want to make a difference.  It is not that they have too much time on their hands.  They made room for the challenge because they desired to make a difference.

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Thanks. – shawn

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