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Alternative Fall Break

Putting a Face to the Statistics: Poverty and Class Disparity in Knoxville, TN


About The Trip: 

This trip will focus on immersing oneself in service, specifically dealing with the issue of poverty and class disparity in modern American society. Appalachia is one of the most poverty-stricken areas of the United States with more than thirty percent of Tennessee's population living below the poverty line. Poverty can come in many form ranging from physical manestfacation such as hunger and homelessness to cultural and societal disparities like limited social mobility. Knoxville’s poverty rate is 25 percent, which is significantly higher than both the state of Tennessee and the United States. Knoxville is an ideal location for understanding the state of disparity and poverty in the United States.

On this trip our community service will consist of volunteering with a local rescue ministry, serving food in a soup kitchen, and working to provide housing to those in need. The main advocacy organization that we will be working with is the Knox Area Rescue Ministries, which provides basic needs of food, safety, and shelter for those in emergency need with the emphasis on building relationships with those in need as a positive path toward restoration.

About the Social Justice Issue: 

In recent decades, the United States has seen unparalleled increased in domestic poverty rates and growing disparity between the rich and the poor. The United States currently has about a 16% poverty rate, with 20% of American children being part of this poverty group. This number continues to grow due to several social, economic, and political reasons. there are significantly higher rates of poverty among people of color and veterans.

About the Leaders: 

Jun Cai is a fourth year undergraduate student at the Emory College, studying Environmental Science and History. Jun is a weekly service leader for Trees Atlanta, a brother of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, a member of Homeless Outreach Awareness Project and works in the Office of Sustainability Initiatives. He is interested in the social justice topics of sustainability, environmental justice and class disparity.

Bharath Shankar is a third-year undergraduate student in the Emory College, studying Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology. Bharath is involved as a brother of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, co-president of Emory NERD Club, and a chair on the University Central Board. He is passionate about many social justice issues, ranging from class disparity to health education. He has participated in Alternative Fall and Winter Break trips last year.

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