This morning we drove downtown and took the “Poverty Walk” with the Asheville Poverty Initiative. We were led by several currently or previously homeless individuals who gave us a tour of the city from the homeless point of view. They showed us where they hang out, find clothes to wear, get food to eat, use bathrooms, sleep at night, etc. They also explained to us the difficulties presented by the current governmental systems.
The purpose of the walk was to “deconstruct the stereotypes about poverty”. Rather than volunteering in a typical “haves” helping “have-nots” situation, we interacted personally with the people in need with the intent to form relationships. We were told this is a better method of service because it encourages long term commitment and changes negative perceptions. For example, before the walk we brainstormed words that we associated with poverty–we used words like: shopping carts, baggy clothes, hunger, backpacks, “their” fault, etc. After the walk, we were asked to brainstorm words that we now associated with poverty. The new list consisted of words such as: stress, tiring, self-worth, targeted, day-to-day, etc. It was incredible to see how, in three hours, we were able to completely change our perspective on poverty. Everyone should have the opportunity to talk a life-changing walk like this one.
After the walk we went to Biscuit Head–a restaurant by our hostel that we’ve been eyeing all week. We were NOT disappointed. They had dozens of specialty biscuits and a jelly bar with 30 variety of toppings.
Following lunch we went to paint pottery! It was 75 degrees and beautiful outside but we spent ALL DAY getting into the creative Asheville spirit aka spent three hours crafting the most intricate mugs in the world.
Exhausted from our creative outpouring, we went to a coffee shop located in a double decker bus. We drank blackberry and lavender honey lattes on the top deck. Next we finally got to experience the infamous Friday drum circle in Pritchard Park. People gathered together and played drums and danced in the park. We had a great time dancing along.
At 7:30 we went to a comedy show. We’ll leave the name out for reasons that will become apparent. We were SUPER excited for a quirky Asheville comedy show. The actors gave us a shout out at the beginning because we took up such a large portion of the audience. However, the show was so awful all ten of us dipped out at intermission. We literally ran out. Whoops.
We darted back for the hostel where we ate leftover spaghetti and did group karaoke to the Mid 2000s Throwback playlist on Spotify. We watched the UVA basketball game and had great reflections about our experience with the Asheville Poverty Initiative this morning.
We’re super sad because it’s the last day of the trip but we’re excited to be back in Charlottesville tomorrow!