Inside the brightly painted old school bus that rolled onto Elon University’s campus Sept. 17, there was a four-person team ready to deliver their documentary, “Living on One.” Elon is the first stop in a screening tour of twenty other schools across the United States.
To better understand the reality of stark poverty, Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci, students from Claremont McKenna College, led a team to the rural Guatemalan village of Pena Blanca in 2010.
“We were economics majors and had heard of these issues but decided to experience it firsthand,” Temple said.
Temple and Ingrasci enlisted the help of their friends, Sean Leonard and Ryan Christoffersen, in the project. The students spent their summer living on a strictly-regimented dollar-a-day plan. The money was allotted in random increments—they drew from a hat each morning—to simulate the intermittent nature of their neighbors’ sporadic paydays. To sustain their living, they obtained a microloan and used the money to grow crops.
Leonard and Christoffersen captured their experience on camera and created from it a documentary, which the team presented at Elon.
Temple and Christoffersen said their journey was not without hardships. They struggled with financial stress, E.Coli, and rapid weight loss. When Temple regained the 20 pounds he lost in Guatemala, he said he felt guilty knowing the people he lived amongst did not have access to food in abundance.
But in retrospect, the filmmakers said they have no regrets and encourage other students to follow their passions.
“Never as a generation have we been this free to talk and travel,” Ingrasci said.
Temple and Ingrasci took questions from the crowd after the screening, and Whole Foods, the program’s sponsor, provided free food.
Senior Alexis Deprey said she was pleased she attended.
“I think this documentary is inspirational to other students because these guys had the idea and they actually followed through with it,” Deprey said. “It certainly is a cool way to get people excited about microfinancing. They made it look cool.”
The “Living on One” tour will conclude back in Pena Blanca, Guatemala with an intimate screening with friends and neighbors.