MESA, Ariz. -- ASU Polytechnic students gathered outside their Student Union Tuesday to build a cardboard house they will be living in for the next three days as part of the Two Dollar Challenge.
Two Dollar Challenge started at the University of Mary Washington in 2007 when Dr. Shawn Humphrey, an Economics professor, challenged his students to live off $2 each day for a week. Since then, the event has spread to colleges throughout the United States.
Students are challenged to live off $2 each day without modern luxuries to help raise awareness about poverty in the world.
“45 percent of the world lives on less than $2 per day,” said Mentor Dida, a senior energy technologies student at ASU Polytechnic. He began Two Dollar Challenge there in 2012. “By simulating conditions of poverty, students are seeing what it’s like to live like that.”
ASU Polytechnic is currently the only ASU campus that takes part in Two Dollar Challenge, but they hope to get other campuses involved next year. About 20 students will be sleeping in the cardboard house through Friday, November 15, and several others will be helping fund raise.
Students started building their cardboard home on the lawn in front of the Student Union Tuesday morning by cutting large cardboard boxes and duct taping them over rope tied between trees and light poles.
Those participating in the Two Dollar Challenge will sleep on top of cardboard in sleeping bags within the structure. The group has also come up with ways to entertain each other at night, such as playing guitar.
“We won’t be distracted by technology and we’ll be able to build real relationships with other people here,” said Briana Del Bianco, a sophomore technological entrepreneurship student at ASU Polytechnic who is taking part in the challenge.
This year, the Two Dollar Challenge at ASU Polytechnic is partnering with Esperança, a non profit organization that helps improve health and brings doctors to third world countries. Students will be hosting a shoe drive and selling t-shirts to raise money for the organization.
Students raised $5K during the challenge last year.
“Sometimes we get too narrow-minded and complain about classes being too hard or not having enough money when some people around the world don’t even have water,” Dida said.
In 2012, students tried living off $2 each day individually, but for the 2013 challenge they are going to bring their money together and buy food items in bulk to share. Since participants can’t use gas during Two Dollar Challenge, they will provide services such as washing cars or cleaning dorm rooms to get a ride to the store in exchange.
Dida believes people can help raise awareness about poverty throughout the year.
“The more you help others, the more you help yourself,” he said. “It is important to be the voice, share with others and show compassion.”
Students will be blogging about the experience at: http://www.esperanca.org/tdcasu/.