Friday, March 6, 2009

What can I do?

Tonight Jed and I went on our weekly date. I guess everyday is a date for us, but we try to have one actually scheduled date each week. Obviously, being college students, and us being us, they usually don't cost much money, or take much prep work. Well, this week we went to the Hunger Banquet, which did cost a few dollars, but it was so worth it. It was put on by a club at school (one of the very few I am not apart of, but that will be changing!) We had heard many observations about how the evening was going to go, but nobody really knew for sure.
We got there a little early, so we were one of the first "seated". We found out that seating was decided by complete chance, and we happened to get what was considered "Upper Class." As we were seated by our waiter, wearing a suit, who pulled out our chairs, we noticed we were definitly in the minority. There were only a few tables set up, and then a few rows of chairs on the outside, but the entire ballroom was filled with flattened cardboard boxes, which is where the majority of the people sat.
Not only was the seating different, but depending on the level that you were seated, determined your food. We ate bread, a salad, potatoes, pulled pork, corn, a cookie, and ice cream. We were served first, and both Jed and I felt a little weird eating in front of everybody else. There were a few other tables, but we really were eating in front of a few hundred people sitting on the floor, eagerly waiting their own food. The middle class people were fed hotdogs or pizza, which wasn't that bad. The rest of the people in attendance were served rice and beans, which they shared with those around them. I didn't see them get any silverware either.
I think the thing that touched my heart the most was the stark difference between each level. There were sooo many more people living in poverty compared to the middle or upper class.
Then when they said that 85% of the population of the world lives on less than 2.5 dollars a day, I wasn't surprised. Not only 2.5 US dollars, but compareably, they live off of what it would be like to live off of 2.5 dollars a day in the States.
There were a few keynote speakers, one talking about his experience in a small village in Africa, being able to help build a school there; the other a woman who works in Utah County in an organization for Adult Illiteracy. Both of which were touching, and very interesting.
I think that the thing that I will most remember from this experience isn't the awkwardness of eating in front of other people. I don't think it will even be the children who were rescued from Congo who came and sang and danced for us. No, I don't think it will even be the grown man and woman who both cried as they spoke about their life's experiences with poverty. By far it will be the way that I felt as I looked at the children who had just recieved a school, the first for them. They never before had a school where they could learn to read or write. No crayons, coloring books, playgrounds, toys of any kind. This was all a first for them. What I will remember is the little boy who reached up to share his book with a girl who didn't have one. That is what I will remember from the 17th annual BYU Hunger Banquet. "It's not about what you can't do for the world. It's about what you are able to do with what you are given." "Where much is given, much is required."

1 comment:

DAY said...

Wow, what a special experience! Definitely and eye-opener I'm sure. I love your attitude and your perspective from what you learned. Many people will go away from that and do nothing. But even if you can't fly to Africa or open your wallets in a big way, coming from that experience w/ a more grateful heart and an awareness of our world makes you better than you were before you went.