PSO Facilitator Guide

Personal Perspectives of Poverty

Personal Perspectives of Poverty
10:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (105 minutes)

Session set-up: • Butcher paper for “poverty wall”; markers for participants • Set chairs in a circle for “Poverty Wall Activity” By the end of this session, participants will be able to: • Articulate their perspectives of and relationship to poverty • Identify stereotypes and assumptions about poverty to gain a broader understanding of it • Identify personal skills and life experiences they will bring to addressing poverty as part of their service

Time 2 minutes

Steps 1. Introduce the session and its outcomes.

Resources/ Materials
Training Materials & Overhead: Session Outcomes

2 minutes

2. Refer to the VISTA History and Legacy video to remind participants about the anti-poverty mission of VISTA. Share with participants that before they look closely at their assignments and the service they will contribute to their sponsoring organizations, they need to examine their own understanding and assumptions about poverty. Note that this session will tap into our personal experiences with poverty. This afternoon’s session will examine the research on poverty. Poverty Wall Activity 1. Introduce the wall chart. “What Is Poverty?” is written on the top half of the chart, and “Causes of Poverty” is on the bottom, with a line drawn between them.
Butcher paper on wall

80 minutes 1 minute

VISTA Integrated Training Program

Rev. March 2008

1

PSO Facilitator Guide

Personal Perspectives of Poverty

Time 8 minutes

Steps 2. Ask participants to spend a few minutes writing or drawing their view of poverty and its causes in their VISTA PSO Notebooks. Explain that we want them to think about these questions in relation to poverty in the US. Participants’ responses can include what they think as well as what they have heard others say about poverty. Once they are done, have them go to the wall and write or draw their responses. Advise participants that everyone should contribute to the wall. If they find that someone else has already written what they wanted to write, it is okay; they should still add their ideas. 3. After they complete the wall chart, have participants do a silent walkabout. In this activity, the entire group silently reads the chart and considers the various definitions and perspectives of poverty that are represented. 4. Before starting the group discussion, ask participants to record their observations in their VISTA PSO Notebooks: What stood out, surprised them, or influenced their thinking in a new way? Note to Facilitator: If it's not already done, have the group rearrange the chairs in a circle for the discussion.

Resources/ Materials
VISTA PSO Notebooks Markers on table Butcher paper on the wall

5 minutes

5 minutes

VISTA PSO Notebooks

1 minute

20 minutes

5. Ask participants to share some of their most significant observations. Note to Facilitator: Processing this discussion well is the most important part of the activity. Participants should be invited to have a deep discussion about poverty and their perceptions of it. This discussion may elicit strong responses. Realize that confusion, chaos, and contradictions are inherent in a group’s varied perceptions. You don’t want to reconcile these perceptions through agreement or avoidance; rather, it is important to acknowledge the paradoxes and confusions. We want to make it harder for people to embrace the misconception that one person holds the truth about the cause of poverty. There are many causes and many different truths, depending on the individual.

2

Rev. March 2008

VISTA Integrated Training Program

PSO Facilitator Guide

Personal Perspectives of Poverty

Time 25 minutes

Steps 6. Get the conversation moving to a deeper level by asking questions such as: • What are some of the assumptions implicit in the pictures and definitions of poverty and its causes? • Where do you think these beliefs and assumptions come from? • How do your personal experiences with poverty or the lack of experiences influence you and create a filter through which you see poverty and the world? Note to Facilitator: 1) Dealing with an Uncomfortable Discussion Some participants might be uncomfortable with this topic. That’s okay. It’s not going to be an easy discussion which provides participants with a set idea of what poverty is. Instead, this activity is meant to make people think about and reevaluate their conception of poverty. It’s all right if participants leave with more questions than they came with; we will address these questions in the next session. If the group does feel uncomfortable, there are several ways to address this. One way is to openly validate the group’s feelings. Also acknowledge that some participants may have experienced poverty themselves. What does that mean for them as they embark on this work to address poverty? 2) Dealing with a Dominant Speaker(s) or Quiet Group Some participants may seem to dominate the discussion while others remain silent throughout. Here are two “tried-and-true” ways to address the imbalance: To encourage silent participants to contribute to the discussion, tell the group that it is okay not to say anything...but if you are going to leave the session and regret not speaking your thoughts, then you may want to consider sharing them now.

Resources/ Materials

VISTA Integrated Training Program

Rev. March 2008

3

PSO Facilitator Guide

Personal Perspectives of Poverty

Time

Steps If you find that a few people are dominating the discussion, change the processing mode. Tell the group that this is a time for all of them to contribute their experiences and to reach this end, we will now go around the room and let people speak in order. If you do not have anything to say, or if you feel you have already expressed your views, you can pass, but if there is something you have not had a chance to say, this will give you that opportunity.

Resources/ Materials

2 minutes

7. Emphasize that addressing poverty is the “heart” of VISTA. Knowing what poverty means to a variety of people will help each participant to identify some of his or her own assumptions and stereotypes about poverty. 8. Underscore the importance of checking one’s assumptions regarding poverty, and consciously realizing what is attitude and what is fact. Assumptions influence attitudes; attitudes influence perceptions; and perceptions have an impact on one’s effectiveness or ability to carry out a VISTA assignment. Note to Facilitator: It is vital that participants bring to the surface and understand their own attitudes toward poverty and how these attitudes might influence their view of the community they will serve.

3 minutes

4

Rev. March 2008

VISTA Integrated Training Program

PSO Facilitator Guide

Personal Perspectives of Poverty

Time 10 minutes Key Points To Make:

Steps

Resources/ Materials
Orientation Materials: Personal Perspectives on Poverty... Key Points

• It is easy to make assumptions and not be aware of them. • Often our perceptions are based on feelings, judgments, stereotypes, and underlying beliefs. • It is important to examine our assumptions and judgments so we can make informed choices about what we believe. • It is important to gather evidence to support how we see and perceive different aspects of life. • The truth is that none of us has the truth about poverty. 21 minutes Poverty Wall Debrief 1. Debrief: Ask the group… • Why did we do this activity? • How has this experience influenced our thinking about poverty? • How can we deal with our assumptions about poverty? How might this experience inform how we interact with people in our communities?

VISTA Integrated Training Program

Rev. March 2008

5

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful