A homeschool group that I belong to posted about The Compassion Experience online. The Compassion Experience is a mobile caravan where you get to “experience other cultures, the realities of global poverty, and how you can change the life of a child living half a world away.” You walk through rooms that are set-up to look like the places that other kids live and get a real feel for what it is like to live in poverty. The few responses on the thread said that they enjoyed this experience and it was eye opening. Someone questioned how much religion is in this experience and one mom that had previously gone stated that even though it is put on by a Christian organization(s) it didn’t have a strong religious tone to it, which is something we were looking for. I thought that this would be perfect for my boys because they have a bad case of the gimmes and greedies lately.
We didn’t make a reservation because they were full, so we walked in. There wasn’t a long line, but it took awhile to see the exhibit because they only let people in every five minutes. When it was our turn we had to choose between two stories. We decided on the story of the boy from Ethiopia (his story didn’t seem as depressing and more suitable for our boys). We each got headphones and an iPod which would tell us a story through the exhibit. We headed into the first room, which was this teeny tiny room that could just fit us four (they said that the max would be six per room, but I think that would be too crowded). The story started, but they didn’t connect what we were seeing in the room to the story that much. Then we went to the next room, which was supposed to be a portion of the house that the boy lived in. It was hard to feel like this was an actual room because it was so small. I had really expected that there would be an exact replica of a couple of rooms, but there were not. Again, the story didn’t really give us much insight into how a kid in poverty lives. The next room was a school room. This is where the stories started mentioning Jesus and God a lot with the message that they were the only ones that could bring you out of poverty and save you; this message continued on in the next two rooms.
When we were done the first thing that the boys said was, “That was boring.” I would have to agree with them. I really had expected something much different than what we experienced. I was hoping that my boys would see what it was like for others living in poverty and feel a little compassion and know that they have it really good compared to other kids in this world. I think that if the Compassion Experience had better stories, actual replicas of rooms (instead of just a sliver of the room), and tried to explain what it was like for a kid to live in poverty it would have been much better. I assume that if you are religious, particularly Christian, you might get more out of the experience than we did.