For those fortunate enough to live as stereotypical super-size-it-all Americans, it may be difficult not to take abundance for granted. There are millions of others who lack the daily necessities that have become givens for most Americans.
Key Club’s participation in International Famine Day, along with the participation of many other students within their own community groups, was aimed to raise awareness about this issue and remind people to take a little time out of their hectic lives to experience what people in Third World countries must go through every day.
The international youth movement encourages teens to participate in a 30-hour famine, during which they refrain from eating to promote the motto “Starve for Food.”
On Friday, February 20, about 20 Key Club members—half of the club—arrived at Key Club president senior Natalie Kwong’s house by 3 p.m., when the club’s famine was scheduled to begin.
The national days for the event were on Friday, February 27 and Saturday, February 28, but due to conflicts with the school musical schedule, Key Club members participated a week earlier.
Unlike typical service activities, members received only a portion of the 30 hours for community service because it was mostly “hangout” according to Natalie, unlike their usual weekend activities.
“I heard about it from another club in our division, Lynbrook,” Natalie said. “I was thinking maybe it would be a really good idea for us. …We’re kind of fundraising and raising awareness about Famine International.”
With 40 members, the LAHS Key Club is only two-thirds the size of Lynbrook’s, but its actions do not go unnoticed.
“If people hear about the types of things that we’re doing, maybe it would raise awareness for Key Club on our campus and also service in general,” Natalie said.
Members were asked to donate $10-15 to Famine International, a program that spreads awareness about starvation in Third World countries and hosts activities to combat the famine. Although the club hoped to collect donations, the event was still considered as more of a “feel” thing than a fundraiser.
The purpose of this “humbling” experience, according to sophomore Stefan Tian, was not only to inform the public, but also to experience the suffering that those less fortunate individuals go through.
“People do know [about starvation],” Stefan said. “People just don’t care.”
Many of the members agreed, saying that by participating they hoped to empathize with people who had limited access to food.
“By putting myself in their shoes, I can maybe understand their agony and would be more inclined to donate to their cause,” sophomore Caleb An said.
Participants passed the time at Natalie’s house playing video games and watching movies. They spent the night in sleeping bags on the floor and sprawled out on couches.
“It’s kind of like a huge sleepover except no one was eating, so everyone was a little pissed off,” Stefan said.
By 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, many were feeling repercussions, though some felt relatively normal.
“[I felt] not hungry, ironically,” Caleb said. “Sleep-deprived, but not hungry.”
After the event ended at 9 p.m. on Saturday, February 21, Key Club members relished a congratulatory Korean BBQ feast, a meal that they greatly appreciated after their several hours of not eating.
All in all, the experience was certainly an eye-opening one.
“No matter how hard we may try, we can never truly have the wanted ‘African child’ experience,” Stefan said. “But I feel that this experience did bring us a little bit closer to it.”