Students spent last Thursday, Feb. 11, in UTCC watching a screening of “Poverty, Inc.” and listening to one of the creators of the film talk about it. APU’s Department of History and Political Science and the School of Business and Management hosted the screening of the award-winning documentary before hosting a live Q&A with coproducer Mark Weber.
“Poverty, Inc.” investigates the “complex global industry of foreign aid.” The documentary revealed shocking truths about organized charity, orphanages and worldwide donations by examining the rise of charity as a highly profitable industry. Included in the film were interviews from economists, social philosophers, politicians and Americans who have approached the issue of poverty in a new way.
The documentary raised questions about the traditional method of dealing with poverty, while also highlighting the negative effects of charity on a nation.
It included refreshing insight into the ways people can make a positive, long-term effect on impoverished countries.
Weber emphasized before and after the film how important it is to not look at poverty as an issue, but as actual people being the subject of the issue.
After the documentary was over, Weber held a live Q&A with the audience. Students and faculty swarmed to the microphone to tackle difficult concerns and questions, engaging in profound discussion on certain aspects of the film.
One student particularly moved by the documentary was junior finance major Matt Ahlquisd.
“This whole film essentially brought to light an idea of poverty that I had never thought of before,” Ahlquisd said.
Ahlquisd said the film got him to intellectualize his ideals and recognize how they were not aligned with the issues truly occurring in the global issue of poverty.
“Being able to have that open dialogue with [Weber] just made this experience even more incredible,” Ahlquisd said. “I definitely got a lot more out of this experience than I was expecting—it was incredibly insightful and a huge learning experience.”
Ahlquisd added that this experience has urged him to find a way he can help, not only through his career path, but through his faith.
The Q&A lasted about 40 minutes, with many questions about the gap between global poverty industries and poverty as the issue itself. Weber explained the importance of not oversimplifying issues like poverty.
“I think sometimes we gravitate toward simple fast-food solutions, and what we really need to do is sink our teeth into the complexity and have a sense of humility that informs a learning mindset,” Weber said. “Instead of going on mission trips, I think we should be going on learning trips.”
Weber explained that people don’t need to go to “far away exotic places” in order to make a change—it starts at home by helping the community.
“I would encourage students who are interested in international issues to not neglect issues in this community right here,” Weber said.
Weber encouraged students to be thinking throughout the year about those in the community who need their help.
“I hope students will be thinking about how can they start a relationship with people in the community who need [them],” Weber said. “Relationship is really important because it puts the person first instead of the cause of the issue. It really prioritizes the person, which is what this film is about.”
“Poverty, Inc.” is available to stream on iTunes as well as on DVD.