Faculty of International Studies
【国際学部】リレー・エッセイ(10) Lowell Gretebeck, “What does it mean to be poor?”
Dr. Lowell Gretebeck
What does it mean to be poor? This is a basic question that students in my Global Issues class have attempted to answer during the term. Of course, the definition for the word “poor” has many different meanings, depending on the place of an individual’s birth. For me, growing up in the United States, “poor” could mean not buying a new car, or perhaps having to postpone a summer trip to Disneyland.
As my students pointed out, however, being “poor” in South Asia means something completely different: for million of people, “poor” means a reduced life expectancy, a lack of food, poor nutrition and a lack of safe drinking water. Other students correctly noted that “poor” can also mean the inability to read and write or attend school
It is estimated that over one-half of the world population – three billion people – still live in poverty, which is defined as those who live on less that two dollars a day. What these numbers to not tell is the fact that poverty seriously affects children and women. The United Nations estimate that 100 million children under the age of five die each year due to illness and malnutrition. Million of other children remain on the streets and are subject to a life of crime and illiteracy. Clearly, in this age of internet and CNN news, the gap between the rich and the poor have become even more visible.
In response to this important issue of poverty, students often ask the question, “how can individual people – including students - really make a difference in ending poverty in our world”? This is a basic question that we will continue to explore in our classes in the International Studies Department. I invite you to join our classes as we seek an answer to this question and make the world a happier place to live for all people.