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Awareness of poverty raised in OSLA event

By Marisa RussellSTAFF WRITER

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and the season of giving will follow soon after. But what about the 2.5 billion people that live across the world in poverty?

The Office of Student Leadership and Activities (OSLA), for the third consecutive year, brought an event to Hofstra that involves teaching the community how serious poverty is.

“We do it every year for the Discovery Program. We also do it every Thanksgiving, and this is our third banquet for the entire community,” said Ashley Gray, assistant director of OSLA.

The event they host is symbolically called the Hunger Banquet.

To start off the event, students were asked to choose a card that indicated their poverty level, and based on that level were served dinner. For instance, Michael DeVito, senior anthropology major, ate as a high-class member.

“I felt bad, because even a little meal is more than the least,” said DeVito, who was fed a four-course meal while some others were fed only rice.

As dinner was served, videos and statistics explaining poverty were displayed and many students found the numbers alarming and disturbing. Their awareness was raised to the fact that 15 percent of the world could be considered “high class” with an average income above just $12,000 per year.

“It was informative in saying to remember how much hunger there is in the world and it was a shock… I really liked the food, but I just felt really sad after seeing the videos. The videos were really disturbing to watch; it’s scary to realize people endure that,” DeVito said.

Forty percent of the world struggles to survive on less than $2 a day. Every year, Gray observes the shock on students’ faces after they learn statistics such as this.

“During the Thanksgiving holiday a lot of people are doing canned food drives, and there is a lot of talk about hunger and volunteering, but I don’t think people are as aware of the true issues, and that’s the whole point of the Hunger Banquet,” Gray said.

There were three student performances accompanying the video and photo presentations. Sigma’cappella and Makin’ Treble sang and a dance was performed by a student.

“I liked how it was very effective. I liked that we had performances at the event,” DeVito said.

As shocking as the banquet was, students left more informed than they entered, and many felt driven to give.

“It’s not to make you feel guilty, it’s to make you aware,” Gray says. “This is all about hunger and poverty, but there’s a lot of different issues and a lot of different causes out there.”

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