Whether it was lifting the 65-pound weight that represented the amount of gear a soldier wears in combat, or hearing the trembling voice of a child being worked to death in a sweatshop, the student-developed “Footsteps” was intended to inspire and move students.
“We provided a venue and a platform for students to decide which issues they wanted to highlight,” said Heather Erikson, assistant director of student developments.
Entering the dark maze of a room, there was a sense of sobriety and reverence amongst the group as students participated in the various activities.
The students watched actual video of soldiers in comparison to a video game. The tour director, Evanlene Melting Tallow, explained the ignorance that many people have
As the tour progressed, participants listened to an explicitly, harsh poem from the viewpoint of a skinhead, recited by Patricia Smith. The lyrics made a profound impact, and her presentation left the group speechless.
Melting Tallow then separated the group and gave everyone a large note card. The students read the description of the person the card represented, as they varied from the life of a homosexual, transgender, bisexual, etc.
The exhibit also highlighted the issue of domestic violence. A video of a child living in a chaotic home was presented to students. The video depicted a household in which a child’s parents constantly fought, often physically, forcing the viewer to sympathize with the child’s life of constant fear and instability.
At the conclusion, the tour members witnessed displays, in which a light shone individually on a life-size image of three different children who worked in various sweat shops around the world.
Each child spoke through a recording in which they walked the listener through their daily routine. One child, in a pity-stricken tone, explained that she was sold by her parents to a factory in which she worked 20 hour days. She was beaten if she cried, fed bug-infested food, and forced to sleep on the roof.
Another child told of her friend who had been ill, and “left to a better place.” Though she too always felt sick, the young girl said she hoped she would one day become ill enough to join her friend.
These were the stories of only a minuscule percentage of the countless children who are forced to work in sweatshops around the world for companies like Nike, JC Penney, Walmart, Adidas, H&M, and many more.
Students were able to reflect on their thoughts and feelings of the even in the “room of hope.” Linda Michals, dean of students, handed out paper and pens to write a small note about the personal feelings they had on the matter following what was just witnessed. The notes were placed on a wall in the room.
“This was a really good way to highlight diversity issues,” said Heather Erickson.
“Footsteps” happens every year in order to encourage students to make a change.
The managing editor of the NIC Sentinel. Tyson is on his third year at the newspaper and is skilled in different journalism subjects. He is also skilled at underwater basket weaving and juggling chainsaws.