Weekend 'survival' challenge creates third-world simulation

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One woman discovers she is pregnant, one loses her job and another faces AIDS without the necessary means for treatment. These are just some of the challenges 16 female students will face during a three-day program hosted by Delta Sigma Theta.

The program “Survival of the Fittess” incorporates the reality show “Survivor” as an approach to bring awareness to the hardships women encounter in third-world countries.

Senior political science and film-television-digital media double major and chair of the program Dezi Bennett said she was inspired to create the program based off of an event called “A Night in Darfur” when she was in high school.

“[We’re] just kind of playing off of that and not making it just one night, but really an entire event that really captures what it’s like living in a third-world country and just maybe incite change and make people want to make a difference,” Bennett said.

Bennett said potential participants had to submit video applications about themselves. Each woman had to explain why they wanted to participate and define what made a “survivor.”

The chosen participants would split into two tribes and compete against each other throughout the duration of the event. The catch to the program was that the participants did not know exactly what each of the challenges would entail.

Felicia Mossler, a sophomore anthropology major, said she was concerned about not knowing what challenges and obstacles she would face.

“We don’t know anything,” Mossler said. “We don’t know if we’re going to get kicked off, if we’ll have to build a boat and sail somewhere.”

Bennett said aside from the adrenaline rush of the weekend, participants would listen to guest speaker Yollande Kayembe, a native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Kayembe would share her experience living in and escaping from the Congo.

“She won’t sugarcoat about the region and about the different trials, whether it’s food, whether it’s HIV or AIDS,” Bennett said. “She’s someone who can give a firsthand experience about what it’s really like and what it is all about.”

Christie Holland, a sophomore religion major, said she wanted to be put in the shoes of a third-world woman so she could relate and have a better perspective on life.

“I plan on doing mission work in the future,” Holland said. “And I just want to be able to help those people and understand where they are coming from.”

Bennett said she went on a mission trip with her church to Nicaragua her senior year of high school. She said the trip allowed her to re-evaluate her life and what her role was in the world.

“These people — no matter what they’re going through — they are still living life, and they are still happy even though they are struggling on a day-to-day basis,” Bennett said. “And so it really means a lot and makes you even think more about your life.”

The “Survival of the Fittess” event will begin Friday and last through Sunday, but will not be open to the public, Bennett said.

The program will be filmed and revealed to the public as a small documentary, scheduled to premiere in April. The documentary will include footage from the program as well as personal accounts from the participants.

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