So as we did in July, we put out a call to local Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs or DEs) to help staff the booths at Poverty Simulations. This time it was for the Saturday simulation portion at our Spring and Fall DE Trainings (the pictures here are from the most recent DE Training in September). For both trainings, about 10 DEs volunteered at each one (as well as some non-DEs – friends from CUNA, CUNA Mutual Group and local credit unions).
The Poverty Simulations are designed to help credit union employees, volunteers and leadership begin to understand what it might be like to live in a typical low-income family trying to survive from month to month. In the simulation, participants assume the roles of up to 26 families. Some families are newly unemployed, some are homeless and others are senior citizens living on disability payments or raising grandchildren. During the three hour activity, these “families” are struggling to make ends meet in the simulated month of four fifteen minute weeks. At the conclusion of the exercise (this is not a game), participants will be more aware to the daily realities of many American families. Walking in another’s shoes is a far more effective way to sensitize others to the needs of immigrants and other low-wage working families than from traditional diversity or classroom learning.
It’s always a powerful (and emotional) educational experience for attendees and the volunteers as well!