Last week Notre Dame's Class of 2021 participated in two days of breakaway activities exploring themes of community, communion and relationship. One integral component of this breakaway esperience is the Community Action Poverty Simulation, a program of Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County’s Step Up Silicon Valley. The Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS) immersed participants in the reality of a Silicon Valley that grows in disparity as much as prosperity.
During the simulation, participants formed families that worked together in a simulated month. Their goal was to ensure housing, food, schooling, health care and other typical needs. Students learned about the barriers to social services, the challenges of living on insufficient income, and encountered unforeseen economic obstacles along the way. Following the simulation, students gathered with teachers and Catholic Charities volunteers to reflect on the impact of these realities for families who are neighbors in our wider county.
The Community Action Poverty Simulation was offered in tandem with the existing breakaway day retreat. Over the two days, students explored more deeply Jesus’s invitation to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Our neighbors are friends, classmates, those who live on our streets as well as those who often go unnoticed in our community. Both experiences enabled students to engage with the 10th grade theme of community and responsibility embedded in Notre Dame’s Education for Justice and Leadership program.