Students get taste of Third World Thanksgiving

By Hanh Quach

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Of the more than 200 students in the room, about 120 crowded to find floor space and scrounged for small Styrofoam cups from which they could drink water while 30 others enjoyed a full Thanksgiving feast at the table.

Serving food to attendants in proportions representing worldwide food distribution at the Park Student Center Monday, the first Hunger Banquet was sponsored by the Multicultural Experience Committee for Residence Life.

Though the banquet illustrated the world's unequal distribution of wealth, students realized they still had the security of eating a full meal at home.

"It gives you an image of what it would be like, but it doesn't give us the true feeling of what it's like," said Gerardo Diaz, criminal justice junior and a residence assistant of Graham-Greenlee Residence Hall.

To participate, students donated cans and non-perishable items to a local food bank for the holiday and then drew their caste from a paper bag.

One hundred and twenty students represented citizens from Third World countries, receiving rice and water from large buckets and served with the same ladle for the holiday meal.

Twenty-five percent of students represented mid-level income countries receiving a meal of rice, beans, Styrofoam dinnerware and water from a tin.

Fifteen percent depicted the distribution of wealth in First World countries. These roughly 30 students received a full and familiar holiday banquet complete with table decor, iced tea, water, appetizers, a chicken entree and dessert.

"You're just hoping you get one of the other two, but you know more than likely you'd get stuck in this one," said Evalina Lafrancis, who sat among 120 other students in the "Third World."

"It was total chance and I felt like I didn't deserve it," said Troy Lillebo who dropped balls of rice into the hands of others sitting in the Third World. "You'd think there would be a reason for being here," he said.

Christopher "Kitt" Taylor, senior lecturer for psychology, and Saundra Taylor, vice president for Academic Affairs, facilitated discussion during the meal.

Kitt Taylor said he hoped students would realize that "people who are hungry don't always fit the stereotype of homeless people that are losers who created the situation because they are lazy."

"They're hungry people that don't deserve to be hungry," he said.

"We're bitter," said Kirk Sibley, who sat on mats among 120 other students.

Saundra Taylor said she hopes that students realize the "multidimensional factors that contribute to hunger in the community."

She also said she hoped students would understand how hunger "significantly affects children and their ability to participate in education."

"Hunger impacts the future," she said.

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