15:08 PM

Anthropology Students Partner With Group Serving Homeless

Students in a Cal State San Marcos anthropology class this semester worked with a nonprofit organization that serves homeless people in San Diego, in the process developing a deeper understanding of their lived experience.

The course ANTH 460: Questioning Cultural Competency, taught by lecturer Isabelle Placentia, partnered with Streets of Hope San Diego, whose mission is to “build a community where those who have much can serve and give to those who have little because real transformation happens through relationship in community.”

The research interests of the class members focused on the basic needs of homeless individuals, with a goal of understanding what such necessities mean to people who don’t have the same access to them. Students were trained by Streets of Hope on the protocols of volunteering and on sensitive ethical considerations when interacting with the community.

Besides learning more about the firsthand experience of homeless people, students made sandwiches with supplies donated by the anthropology department – they were part of a meal package that’s delivered to community members in downtown San Diego every Monday.

They also organized a drive to collect socks for direct distribution to homeless individuals and their families. Aiming for 400 pairs, the class – with the generosity of the campus community – collected almost 800. Laurette McGuire (chair of the anthropology department) and Leo Melena (director of student success in the College of Humanities, Arts, Behavioral and Social Sciences) were integral to spreading the word about the drive.  

Placentia and the students chose Streets of Hope as a partner because it’s run completely by volunteers and all the donations go directly to the homeless community that it serves.

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