When a person first hears the word “poverty” they associate it with homelessness, hunger, and a low quality of life. When I chose to participate in Alternative Breaks this year, I not only was opened up to a world with depression and need, but I realized that more people than I think are living this way. The name of the trip was called “ Inner City Education”; myself along with a group of twelve other Xavier students packed our bags and lived in a homeless shelter for a week during our spring break. Our goal was to work in a nearby elementary school for a week and better understand the conditions that children near home were living in. I had never been to the part of Cincinnati named Over the Rhine (OTR) nor have I ever lived there for a week. Alternative Breaks tried their hardest to simulate to us the living conditions of people in this neighborhood. We had a food budget of $300 that had to last one week, for twelve people, three meals a day. We learned to make do with what we had along with taking public transportation everywhere we went!
On Monday we arrived at the first school named Pleasant Ridge Montessori. We were kindly greeted by each teach and assigned to our separate classrooms. We held no expectations because after all we were just in an elementary school right? I walked into my classroom and immediately swarmed with questions such as, “Who are you?” or “ Why are you here?” and naturally all young children want to know who a new person is. Since this was a Montessori school there are no desks and the children sit on the floor on mats. Each child is assigned a task sheet of the day and at their leisure they must complete it all. I was not familiar with this style of teaching because it was very different to what I had been used to. As the days went on I learned different things about the children and why some of them came to school smelly, some were homeless, a few didn’t have any food or clean clothes to wear, some had been sexually abused,...
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