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Banquet Brings Poverty Issues To Light

For The Heights

Published: Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

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Annie Butnick / Heights Staff

On Tuesday, Dec. 6, a Poverty Dinner was hosted in the Murray Function Room to bring awareness to the immense poverty in the Horn of Africa and the disparities in wealth across the world.

The event aimed to bring forth global awareness, relief, and change and was sponsored by a broad coalition of programs including UGBC, Amnesty International, Asian Caucus, and the African Student Organization. This wide range of sponsors was indicative of the commitment to humanitarian causes and a desire to promote consciousness of issues of poverty within the Boston College community.

"The collective efforts of the four student groups responsible for the planning and execution of this event represents the Boston College student body's concern for human rights and the preservation of human life worldwide," said Allen Currelley,  the event organizer for UGBC and A&S '13.

The Poverty Dinner incorporated a variety of approaches to make the event fascinating yet poignant. The audience was divided into three groups: high-income, middle-income, and low-income. The high-income group sat with a table and chairs, whereas the low-income group sat on the floor. The subsequent distribution of food, ranging from a mere bowl of rice with no cutlery for the low-income group, to an extravagant and plentiful plate of food for the high-income group, was a deliberate metaphor for the disparity in wealth and food distribution within the world, a central focus of the event.

Representatives from the student body gave an informative presentation, accompanied by an emotive video. The video highlighted the immense inequality and poverty that is so prevalent within the world today. Statistics such as one child dying every six minutes in Somalia indicated the extent of the problem and how more attention needs to be drawn to this issue.

"The presentation is educational, interactive and proactive," Currelley said. The incorporation of questions for discussion such as, "Do you have any ideas on how our personal choices as Americans affects the world's unequal distribution of resources?" offered a forum for discussion and actively engaged the audience. Audience participation was promoted throughout the event.

Zine Magubane, a professor in the sociology department went on to speak about poverty in Africa, first establishing it within its historical context. She refuted common explanations for poverty in Africa within the media, such as a lack of ingenuity or the weather, by offering explanations based on colonialism. She argued that the colonists' policies of "divide and conquer" were a major factor towards the dire situation in Africa.

The cohesion of the various sponsors of the Poverty Dinner indicated a unity of cultural and ethnic groups for a common cause. All donations received from this event will be in support of relieving the famine in the Horn of Africa.

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