I Get Food from the Food Bank

“So you liked being on the bus with all the people who don’t have money?”

Hold a Conversation

In addition to the questions below, please see How to use the questions for reflection.

Clarifying Questions
  • Why does the speaker consider her classmates spoiled?
  • What about riding the bus stands out for the speaker?
Interpretive Questions
  • At the beginning of this story, the speaker says she is more or less a “first generation student.” Give the stories she tells, why do you think she chooses to include this piece of information?
  • Does the speaker seem hurt or offended by her roommate’s reaction to why she enjoys riding the bus? How do you account for that?
Implication Question
  • How important is it to feel a sense of belonging in your community, organization, workplace, school, etc.? Why?
  • What support can you provide clients to either help them feel included or find places where they will feel included?  What actions, if any, can you take?

Let us know how the conversation or self-reflection went. Email us or discuss the experience in our comment box.

Transcript for I Get Food from the Food Bank

Technically, I’m not a first generation student because while I was in high school, my dad decided to get an associate degree in plumbing. [compensating laugh] But you know, more or less, I do fit into that, like what you would associate with that. And so, Valpo, the people at Valpo definitely seem to be more middle class or upper middle class than what I used to being around, I guess. There’s people in one of my English classes that seem a little bit spoiled. And they’ve made a couple of comments very recently that were like, they were talking about shopping before class. And where they go shopping. And somebody likes going to Macy’s, and like:

“Oh, what Macy’s do you go to?”

“Definitely not the one in Merrillville. Merrillville is so ghetto. There was a shooting there like two weeks ago. I don’t go to Merrillville, that’s way too ghetto.”

And I’m just like, Merrillville is not ghetto. Even the city is pretty nice. It’s not like a place I’d feel in danger walking or anything like that, and the mall especially, you know, you have to have money to shop at that mall. Like a few minutes after that, I think, somebody must have said something about going to thrift stores cause somebody was like, “Oh, I just have a thing about wearing other people’s clothes.” And they just kind of shuddered. And I looked down at what I was wearing was like oh, this is from a thrift store. [laughs]

There’s kind of a contrasting thing, which was not an on-campus experience, but at the beginning of the semester I rode the bus to campus a couple times a week, just cause I commute, and it just felt good not have to drive a couple of times a week. If you ride the V-line (city bus), not just the places that go from campus exactly, but just around the city, you’ll see, kind of, people that you didn’t realize were living in the city. I heard some guy talking on the phone and asking somebody if they needed their laundry done cause he had 20 bucks left, and he was going to buy tobacco, but if the other guy needed his laundry done, he was only going to buy a little thing of tobacco instead of a big thing so that they could both do their laundry. And I was like, you know, that was the kind of thing I grew up with, and it kinda felt that’s nice to hear in Valpo, you know? Not that it’s good that people don’t have enough money, but like, to know that there’s people like that around.

You know, the bus that I was riding was the one that went by Housing Opportunities (housing non-profit agency) so there would be a lot people when we would drive by. And on Tuesday mornings, people would be waiting in line because that’s when they would do their food pantry thing. And it’s like hey, I get food from the food bank at home, you know, my grandpa brings it by once a month or so. So that was kind of the moment where I realized wow, I feel like I belong around these people sometimes, you know? And my roommate felt that was really weird when I told her. She was like, “So…you liked being on the bus…with all the people…who don’t have money?” And I was like yeah, you know, they wear kinda crappy clothes, and I don’t feel like I have to look good when I get on the bus. And it’s kinda cool.