Middlebury

Symposium on "The Many Faces of Poverty" March 5-12 to offer personal stories, films, refugee camp simulation, dance performances and more

February 23, 2005

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.-A symposium, "The Many Faces of Poverty: Local, National and Global Perspectives," will take place at Middlebury College March 5-12.  Activities during the weeklong event include a refugee camp simulation, hunger banquet, panel discussion, documentary films, artistic performances and guest speakers, including a former refugee from Bosnia and representatives from local nonprofit organizations.  All events are free and open to the public, but donations to the hunger banquet on March 11 will benefit Heifer Project International, an Arkansas-based hunger relief organization.  Donations to the artistic performances on March 12 will benefit Addison County Community Action Group, a local anti-poverty agency. 

According to Middlebury College sophomore Olivia Kenna, one of the members of the student committee who organized the symposium, the purpose of the event is to address poverty from a variety of perspectives, including academic disciplines, local and international viewpoints, simulation and artistic representation.  "The hope of the students who planned the symposium is that it gives Middlebury students and our greater community a framework for understanding issues of poverty," said Kenna. 

"The Many Faces of Poverty" will kick off with a panel discussion, "Local Voices of Poverty: Representatives of Addison County" at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 5, in Ross Fireplace Lounge in Ross Dining Hall off College Street (Route 125).  Panelists will include Addison County residents who live with the realities of poverty and hunger.  Donna Bailey, co-director of the Parent Child Center, a local nonprofit organization, and Paula Sargent, home- based supervisor of Head Start in Addison County, will lead the panel.  The discussion will be an open forum with the audience asking questions of the panelists. 

The poverty symposium will also feature two films.  At 7 p.m. on March 5, a screening of the foreign documentary "Goodbye Hungaria" will take place in Room 220 of McCardell Bicentennial Hall.  Set in a refugee camp in Hungary, the film chronicles the lives of a Palestinian refugee and an American volunteer. "Poverty Outlaw" will be shown at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 10, in the same location.  An official selection of the Sundance Film Festival, "Poverty Outlaw" tells the story of the founding and development of one of the leading homeless and poor peoples' organizations in the United States, the Kensington Welfare Rights Union.  Cheri Honkala, director of the organization, will give a talk the evening prior to the screening.

On Sunday, March 6, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., a refugee camp simulation will take place in McCullough Student Center on Old Chapel Road off South Main Street (Route 30).  Middlebury College sophomore Kelly Dennis, who organized the event, said, "The goal of this simulation is to expose participants to the lives and plight of refugees as they are the ultimate victims of poverty."  Participants will be assigned an identity upon registering and a symbolic plot of land before walking around to view posters and information boards.  A large screen will project images of refugees and refugee camps.  Organizers will play various roles, including reporters, bandits and United Nations medical personnel providing simulated check-ups in a mock medical tent. 

Following the simulation, from 2:30-4 p.m., Aftaba Mezetovic, a former refugee from Bosnia, will give a talk titled "Refugee:  The Ugliest Word."  The author of a book of poetry by the same title, she lived in and managed a Bosnian refugee camp for four years before arriving in the U.S.  Mezetovic has also worked for the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.  Her talk will take place in Mitchell Green Lounge, which is also in McCullough Student Center.

Additional speakers from both the college and the community will take part in the symposium.  At 7 p.m. on Monday, March 7, Stephen Smith, professor of economics at George Washington University, will speak on "Ending Global Poverty."  Smith is the author of a book by the same title which will be published in May.  At 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8, an interdepartmental Middlebury College faculty panel, including Professor of Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies Margaret Nelson, Assistant Professor of Geography Peter Nelson, Assistant Professor of Economics Hugo Ñopo and Assistant Professor of History Jacob Tropp, will offer views on the causes of poverty as well as methods for addressing it.  A discussion will follow and panelists will take questions from the audience.  Smith's talk and the panel will both take place in the Robert A. Jones House on Hillcrest Road off College Street (Route 125). 

At 7 p.m. on March 9, activist Cheri Honkala, director of the Philadelphia-based Kensington Welfare Rights Union and co-chair of the Michigan-based National Welfare Rights Union, will give a talk titled "Poverty in the United States."  A single mother who was once homeless, Honkala has spoken to numerous organizations, including the United Nations, about poverty and related issues such as welfare reform.  She will speak in the Robert A. Jones House as well.

The symposium will continue at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, March 11, in Ross Dining Hall with an Oxfam hunger banquet followed by a lecture in the same location.  A fundraiser for Heifer International, the dinner will simulate the imbalance of food distribution around the world with diners receiving various portions of food depending on the "global personality" to which they are assigned.  Admission to the hunger banquet is free but donations will be accepted at the door.

The dinner event will be followed at 7 p.m. by a slide presentation and lecture in the same location.  Dr. David Heiden will give a talk about "A Doctor's View of Famine in Africa."  Director of the Program for International Ophthalmology at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, Haiden has served as a volunteer physician and medical director in both hospitals and refugee camps in many countries, including Thailand, Somalia, Uganda, Eastern Sudan, Yemen and Cambodia. 

Artistic performances by Middlebury College students will conclude the symposium at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 12.  The arts event, titled "Poverty as an Inspiration for Artistic Expression," will offer a student monologue and short film, a student blue grass group, and student dance groups Riddim and the GT Breakers, a break dancing group.  "The performers will demonstrate how different art forms have originated either in response to poverty or as a result of it," said Kenna.  Admission is free but donations will be accepted at the door, and all proceeds will benefit the Addison County Community Action Group.  The event will take place in Coltrane Lounge in Adirondack House on College Street (Route 125).

A number of Middlebury College organizations are sponsors of the poverty symposium, including the Rohatyn Center for International Affairs, Alliance for Civic Engagement, Ross Commons, Dialogues for Peace, Hillel and Model United Nations.

For more information, contact Sarah Johnson of the Middlebury College Alliance for Civic Engagement at 802-443-5652 or sj@middlebury.edu.

To follow are events calendar listings:

 

Middlebury College Symposium "The Many Faces of Poverty" March 5-12

 

Events Calendar Listings

 

Saturday, March 5

 

4:30 p.m.

Panel Discussion: "Local Voices of Poverty: Representatives of Addison County"

Ross Fireplace Lounge, Ross Dining Hall off College Street (Route 125)

Free

This panel will feature residents of Addison County who live with the realities of poverty and hunger.  Donna Bailey, co-director of the Parent Child Center, and Paula Sargent, home-based supervisor of Head Start in Addison County, will lead the panel.  The discussion will be an open forum with the audience asking questions of the panelists. 

 

7 p.m. 

Film Screening:  "Goodbye Hungaria"

Room 220, McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125)

Free

Set in a refugee camp in Hungary, the film chronicles the lives of a Palestinian refugee and an American volunteer.

 

Sunday, March 6

 

11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Refugee Camp Simulation

McCullough Student Center, Old Chapel Road off South Main Street (Route 30)

Free

Participants will be assigned an identity upon registering and a symbolic plot of land before walking around to view posters and information boards.  A large screen will project images of refugees and refugee camps.  Organizers will play various roles, including reporters, bandits and United Nations medical personnel providing simulated check-ups in a mock medical tent. 

 

2:30- 4 p.m. 

Lecture: "Refugee: The Ugliest Word" by Aftaba Mezetovic, poet and former refugee from

  Bosnia

Mitchell Green Lounge, McCullough Student Center, Old Chapel Road off South Main

  Street (Route 30)

Free

Aftaba Mezetovic, a former refugee from Bosnia, is the author of a book of poetry, "Refugee: The Ugliest Word."  She lived in and managed a Bosnian refugee camp for four years before moving to the U.S.  Mezetovic has also worked for the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.

 

Monday, March 7

 

7 p.m. 

Lecture: "Ending Global Poverty" by Stephen Smith, professor of economics at George

Washington University

Conference Room, Robert A. Jones House, Hillcrest Road off College Street (Route 125)

Free

Stephen Smith is a professor of economics at George Washington University, as well as the author of texts on global economic development.  His forthcoming book, "Ending Global Poverty," will be published in May.

 

Tuesday, March 8

 

7 p.m. 

Panel Discussion: "Academic Perspectives on Poverty" with Middlebury College Faculty

Members

Conference Room, Robert A. Jones House, Hillcrest Road off College Street (Route 125)

Free

An interdepartmental Middlebury College faculty panel comprised of Professor of Sociology and Women's and Gender Studies Margaret Nelson, Assistant Professor of Geography Peter Nelson, Assistant Professor of Economics Hugo Ñopo and Assistant Professor of History Jacob Tropp,

will offer views on the causes of poverty as well as methods for addressing it.  A discussion and question and answer session will follow. 

 

Wednesday, March 9

 

7 p.m. 

Lecture: "Poverty in the United States" by Cheri Honkala, Director of Kensington Welfare Rights Union

Conference Room, Robert A. Jones House, Hillcrest Road off College Street (Route 125)

Free

Director of the Philadelphia-based Kensington Welfare Rights Union and co-chair of the Michigan-based National Welfare Rights Union, Cheri Honkala experienced homelessness firsthand as a single mother.  She has spoken to numerous organizations, including the United Nations, about poverty and related issues such as welfare reform. 

 

Thursday, March 10

 

7 p.m.

Film Screening: "Poverty Outlaw"

Room 220, McCardell Bicentennial Hall, Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125)

Free

An official selection of the Sundance Film Festival, the film tells the story of the founding and development of one of the leading homeless and poor peoples' organizations in the United States, the Philadelphia-based Kensington Welfare Rights Union.  Cheri Honkala, director of the organization, will give a talk the evening prior to the screening.

 

Friday, March 11

 

5:30 p.m.

Oxfam Hunger Banquet: Is Hunger Eating at You?

Ross Dining Hall off College Street (Route 125)

Free; all donations accepted to benefit Heifer Project International

A fundraiser for Heifer International, the dinner will simulate the imbalance of food distribution around the world with diners receiving various portions of food depending on the "global personality" to which they are assigned. 

 

7 p.m.

Lecture and Slide Presentation: "A Doctor's View of Famine in Africa" by Dr. David

Heiden, Director of Program for International Ophthamology, California Pacific Medical Center

Ross Dining Hall off College Street (Route 125)

Free

Director of the Program for International Ophthalmology at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, Haiden has served as a volunteer physician and medical director in both hospitals and refugee camps in many countries, including Thailand, Somalia, Uganda, Eastern Sudan, Yemen and Cambodia. 

 

Saturday, March 12

 

8 p.m.

Arts Performances: "Poverty as an Inspiration for Artistic Expression"

Coltrane Lounge, Adirondack House on College Street (Route 125)

Free; all donations accepted to benefit Addison County Community Action Group

Artistic performances by Middlebury College students will include a student monologue and short film, a student blue grass group, and student dance groups Riddim and the GT Breakers, a break dancing group.  The performers will demonstrate how different art forms have originated either in response to poverty or as a result of it. 

 

All events are free and open to the public, but donations to the hunger banquet on March 11 will benefit Heifer Project International, and donations to the artistic performances on March 12 will benefit Addison County Community Action Group.  For more information, contact Sarah Johnson of the Middlebury College Alliance for Civic Engagement at 802-443-5652 or sj@middlebury.edu.

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