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The Blue & Gray Press | August 19, 2019

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Students brave cold, rain in 10th annual Two Dollar Challenge


For the University of Mary Washington students who may have noticed the large group of people who are camping out on Ball Circle, do not be alarmed: these individuals are tackling the issue of poverty head-on by accepting the Two Dollar Challenge.

Founded ten years ago by Shawn Humphrey, professor of economics at UMW, the challenge asks students to place themselves in a situation where they have to go about their everyday lives with only two dollars to spend for all their needs.

These students are taking on a big challenge and attempting to make a significant and positive impact on the community by attempting to broaden their understanding of poverty. From April 4 to 8, students will partake in the event and attempt to gain a better understanding of how poverty affects the globe.

According to their website, the Two Dollar Challenge was designed to help students experience life outside their comfort zone, as well examine their surrounding communities. “By asking you to live on $2 a day, we hope to push you outside your comfort zone to critically engage with and empathetically reevaluate global poverty and your role in its end,” states the website.

Ultimately, there is an enormous difference between the economic lessons you learn in a college classroom and the economic lessons learned in the life of someone living in poverty.

The Two Dollar Challenge aims to show those who participate a glimpse into what it is like to live on just $2 a day, an amount which 48 percent of the world lives on.  This statistic isn’t just there to shock you, it’s there to hopefully encourage you to get involved.

The event’s website calls for change, from sympathy to empathy, hubris to humility and conviction to doubt. The challenge emphasizes that It takes a radical change to make a big difference, and beginning with shifts in people’s mentalities about global living conditions will help the cause of ending world poverty.

What began on the UMW campus has continued to grow each year, as more and more people across the globe participate each year.

Leigh Beamer, a junior economics major and an outreach coordinator for the Two Dollar Challenge team, said that the challenge has reached beyond campus. Today there are participants in Norway, China and the Philippines, which demonstrate the challenge’s influence internationally– the more people that get involved, the more meaningful it becomes and the more aware the world becomes about global poverty.

All are welcome and encouraged to try to Two Dollar Challenge. It is not easy to do by any means, but that is the reason it exists. The challenge has been created to properly raise awareness, starting with an individual and spreading globally in a concentrated effort to put an end to poverty.

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