Tahoe students learn how Third World lives
March 11, 2009
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE ” About 30 South Shore students sat on the floor in St. Theresa Parish Hall eating rice and drinking water.
The students peered over at six classmates seated at a table, who feasted on shrimp scampi and asparagus. The group sitting on the floor slowly took bites of their rice as the smells of the scampi wafted over to their side of the room.
St. Theresa Religious Education students participated in a Hunger Banquet Friday. The students, in grades sixth to eighth, were separated into three groups: First World countries, Second World countries and Third World countries, said event organizer Sue Davis.
Six students sat at the First World table, and parent volunteers served soup, shrimp, noodles, asparagus, bread and dessert. About 14 students sat at the Second World table, and had to serve themselves tuna casserole and salad. The remaining 30 students dined on rice and water, and had to sit on the floor.
“It’s not fair,” said Jazmin Camberos, 12, who was at the Second World table. “We have to eat this, and other people get to eat good food.”
Two-thirds of the world’s population lives in Third World countries, Davis said.
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“Sometimes kids don’t get to eat at all, and if they do, it’s sometimes once a day,” Davis said.
Christian Eckert, 10, sat with the Third World group and ate his rice, unlike some students who refused to eat plain rice.
“This makes me see how others eat besides myself,” Eckert said.
The banquet’s purpose is to show students how well off they are in this country, Davis said. She pointed out that the six students at the First World table were eating more than some people in the world would eat in 2 1/2 weeks.
“Kids are spoiled rotten and they have no idea how much they have, and this is a way to bring it home,” Davis said.
Davis organizes the banquet every few years. The last one she hosted was in 2004 and her granddaughter participated. Davis said her granddaughter sat at the First World table, and felt guilty that all of her friends couldn’t eat the same food she was enjoying.
“It really made an impression on her,” Davis said.
In addition to the banquet, Davis also invited guest speakers to tell the students about their experiences in Third World countries.
Selina Kostelnik and Sylvia Smith talked to the students about their experiences in Vietnam. The pair went in September 2007 to teach English for about six weeks.
The Vietnamese people don’t waste any food, Kostelnik said.
One night they boiled corn on the cob, and they drank the water the corn was cooked in, Kostelnik said.
They also buy their food fresh, Smith said. Every day the mothers go to the market and purchase food, not like how Americans go to Costco and buy food for a month, she added.
When Smith and Kostelnik came back, they were in cultural shock and had new eyes for how much Americans consume.
“It took a while to acclimate,” Smith said.
Susan Glasson has taken multiple trips to Laos and Cambodia, and she just got back from Cambodia a few weeks ago.
Glasson is a member of the Tahoe Douglas Rotary, and the group built three wells in Cambodia for their international service project.
At some of the homes in Cambodia, the bathroom waste would run into the river next to their houses. If no one in the family could make the 2 1/2 mile round trip to get water, they’d have to use the polluted river, Glasson said.
The children between 4 and 6 years old usually have to go haul the water, so they can’t attend school, Glasson said.
Davis’ brother, Paul Hale, had his own experiences, driving an RV from Tijuana to Guatemala.
On the way down he drove along the coast, but on the way back he drove through the interior.
Before he left on his trip, Hale bought crayons, coloring books, and other toys at a dollar store to give them to children in poverty.
“It broke my heart because they thought it was Christmas,” Hale said.
Many of the children he met during his trip did not attend school because they had to work on the ranches to support their family. They only earn $8 for 12 hours of work, Hale said.
“It’s amazing what we have that they don’t,” Hale said.