Sarah Stultz: We all have so much to be grateful for

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, January 3, 2023

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Nose for News by Sarah Stultz

Almost every time I think about eating rice and beans, I am reminded of an event I attended as a freshman in college 20 years ago.

Called a Hunger Banquet, the event was put on by a service group called Students for International Development to raise money for humanitarian projects and to bring awareness about life in third world countries.

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Students attending the banquet paid a small fee to get in, and upon entry, each person was assigned a “world” to belong to — whether first world, second world or third world. Only a few were placed in the first world, with the majority of people being assigned to the third world.

The number of students assigned to each world symbolized the actual distribution of people across the world — a majority of the people around the globe live in third world countries, while much fewer live in first world countries.

The students assigned to the first world were seated at decorated tables, even serenaded by a musician, and were each given a fancy meal, including dessert.

The students assigned to the second world were seated at chairs and given pizza on paper plates, and the students assigned to the third world were seated on blankets on the floor and were asked to share a plate of rice, beans and tortillas with a half dozen others.

I, along with one of my friends, was assigned to the third world and sat on the floor. I enviously looked at the people seated at the few tables across the room.

We waited as they were served and as they began eating, followed by those in chairs with pizza. Finally, those of us on the floor were served.
We divided up the plate of rice, beans and tortillas so that we could all have some and then began eating.

I don’t remember much about the presentation after that, but I remember going home that night grateful that I didn’t have to eat like that every day — and I’m pretty sure we picked up a snack on the way back to the dorms.

Ever since then, I can’t think of rice and beans without thinking of that night.

As we begin this new year, I hope we can all be grateful for what we have and remember that when we are blessed with extra resources we will find joy when we bless those in need around us.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Wednesday.