THE POWER OF ROLE PLAYING
A CIRCLES LEADER SHARES HER EXPERIENCE AFTER ATTENDING THE POVERTY SIMULATION
Iris, a Circles Leader, describes the power of role playing during the poverty simulation event on December 5th at Good Shepherd Baptist Church. Iris quickly realized the importance of creating a “real life” simulation. Below, she explains in her own words, how and why she changed her behavior to depict an authentic situation. During this process, she has a significant realization and learns an important lesson.
“My experience from the poverty simulation was that I found it difficult to be my normal self (sweet and kind hearted), while playing the role of a rent and mortgage collector. In the beginning part of the simulation, while I was collecting money, only one person asked me for a payment receipt. At that moment, I realized that I could stiff people out of their money, if I chose to, because they couldn’t prove without a receipt that they had paid. That possibility made me think, maybe I should put a spin on things to make the simulation a little more like real life poverty, where people come across dishonest landowners or slumlords who take advantage of you. So, I chose to evict a few of the families in poverty, even though they had paid their rent or mortgage to me.
One family who I offered to collect only a portion of the rent paid me in full. I forgot about this and evicted them. When the father came to complain I realized that even though he had upstanding character and had paid me in full, the fact that I had so many other families to deal with, I forgot to consider that action on his part. Even though he had built a rapport with me, I treated him like everyone else who didn’t ask for a receipt. I felt crushed about evicting this family and returned their belongings and apologized. This made me think, what if I had more interaction with this man or his family? Would I have remembered his actions and been more flexible with him and his family?
After I had ripped off almost every family during the simulation event, I realized that you hurt yourself when you hurt others. I didn’t account for the emotional consequences. One woman came to me, after she had been evicted, to ask that I recognize her rent payment, which I remembered her making. I acted as if I didn’t recall. I told her that I had no record of her payment just as she was pointing to my notes saying, “you wrote it down right there.” Feeling a bit defeated I asked if she had a receipt and she said, “YOU DIDN’T GIVE ME ONE!” I told her, “because you didn’t ask for one.” Although it was true that she didn’t ask for a receipt, it broke my own heart…the look on her face, to let her down like that. For me to stand on that broken truth (that she didn’t ask for a receipt) made me feel terrible inside. Knowing I ripped her off and that there was nothing she could do about it hurt me as much as it hurt her. I think it hurt me more to pretend that I wasn’t hurt, fully aware this woman knew I was lying to her. It was so embarrassing. I made a little promise to myself in real life to always be fair and to not take advantage of others, even if you can, because you’ll hurt yourself in the process.
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