Seventy percent of participants will congregate on slabs of cardboard and go home hungry as they enviously watch the fortunate 30 percent of the “world” eat more substantial food.
This unique experience, known as the BYU Hunger Banquet, is hosted by the Students for International Development this Friday at 7 p.m. in the Wilkinson Center Ballroom. This year’s theme, Raise the World, is focused on children in the developing world and is dedicated to increasing awareness of global poverty. Tickets can be purchased for $8 at the Wilkinson Center Information Desk or $10 at the door.
Activities will include the banquet, cultural entertainment and a keynote speaker, Maya Ajmera. Ajmera, founder of the Global Fund for Children, created the organization to provide funding and support to small projects as well as seek socially innovative ways to help the world’s most vulnerable children. Prior to the banquet, the Involvement Fair at 6 p.m. will host representatives from different clubs, organizations and professionals that have international ties.
Maddy Gleave, one of the presidents of the Students for International Development, said she is looking forward to the event since their organization has dedicated immense amounts of time and energy to make it a success. Gleave said she believes participants will receive a fresh look at problems in the world as they are creatively depicted at the event.
“A lot of times we don’t realize we are the 10 percent sitting at the banquet table,” Gleave said. “For those sitting on the floor, it makes them upset that this is the way the world is. This is an opportunity for us to give to people, who in real life are sitting on the floor eating rice and beans, a voice and the respect and dignity they deserve.”
Haylee Haws, a senior from Morgan, majoring in therapeutic recreation, has volunteered at past Hunger Banquets and participated in the activities. She said she remembers mock tourists walking around gawking at those sitting on pieces of cardboard. Haws said this gave people a different perspective of the world, combined with an interesting wake-up call.
“I think the hunger banquet is incredible,” Haws said. “People who participate have the chance to have a uniquely fun time with friends and gain appreciation for real world circumstances.”
James Francis, a sophomore from Brookings, S.D., changed his major to international relations after attending the Hunger Banquet his freshman year. Francis said his first experience at the Hunger Banquet changed his outlook on life because he realized he could make a difference in the world.
“This is an eye-opening experience because it shows what it’s like everywhere else in the world,” Francis said. “Most people will end up going away hungry and will just go home and eat. But for the real 70 percent in the world, it’s all they get to eat. It provides a unique appreciation for how lucky we are and the reasons for us to help others who are not as lucky.”