For this year’s annual retreat, the Fourth Form took part in an Oxfam Hunger Banquet. Joined by Sacristans and faculty, the class participated in a simulation that brings statistics about poverty to life. When they arrived in the Ragland Commons in the Steers Center, Fourth Form students randomly selected tickets matching real people who are high-, middle-, or low-income earners, demonstrating that where you end up is all in the luck of the draw.
The tickets are based on the latest statistics about the number of people living in poverty, and each income level receives a corresponding meal. The 20 percent in the high-income tier—representing individuals that earn a minimum income of just $8,486.25 a year—were served a full, delicious meal of pasta, salad, and bread at set tables. The 30 percent in the middle-income section—representing individuals who earn between $2,135 and $8,486.25 a year—ate a simple meal of rice and beans. The 50 percent in the low-income tier—representing those who earn an income of less than $2,135 a year (under $5.45 a day)—helped themselves to small portions of rice and water and were seated on the floor.
Annie Celestino ’24 drew a high-income card, and noted that seeing her peers have vastly different meals had a profound effect on her: “The retreat changed my perspective on my own life. I had never realized just how many people are hungry or living in poverty. Only a couple of miles from where I live, there are people who are in need of food. It breaks my heart that I didn't even realize that until now; it makes me want to give back as much as I can.”
The retreat was followed by time for reflection in the Chapel of Our Lady and students and faculty discussed actionable ways they can help combat hunger and poverty. Oxfam is a global organization working to end the injustice of poverty, and works to help people build better futures for themselves, hold the powerful accountable, and save lives in disasters. Their mission is to tackle the root causes of poverty and create lasting solutions by partnering with organizations and individuals across the world.