Dec 042005
Authors: Julie Abiecunas

At 46, many Americans are considered middle-aged. In Niger, the second poorest country in the world, a 47th birthday means exceeding the life expectancy.

With more than 40 children dying each day from malnutrition and famine, Karrin Anderson and her political communications class decided collectively that there must be awareness on the CSU campus.

Instead of tests and quizzes, the class was handed a goal to plan a single night devoted to acquiring as much community involvement as possible. Friday night's "Rammin' the Famine" held in the Lory Student Center's East Ballroom was the big event they had in mind.

"We definitely received a lot of community support," said junior speech communications major Bailey Hunter, who helped put on the event. "Lambda Pi Eta (communications honor society) was able to help us get a lot of things we needed."

With the help of Lambda Pi Eta, Anderson's class reserved a ballroom for the event and gained more people to spread the word. CSU sponsors, in conjunction with Save the Children, raffled off Colorado Eagles hockey tickets and concert tickets, along with donated prizes such as CDs and gift certificates.

While the class set a goal of raising $1,000, Anderson and her students asserted the event wasn't about money, but rather about raising awareness.

"We want to raise money too, but awareness is definitely our cause for tonight," said Katie Jandera, senior speech communications major .

In order to give a personal perspective of what life really is like for people in Niger, two CSU professors, Jerry Johnson and Jessica Davis spoke about the time they spent in Western Africa.

Johnson is an extension specialist who specializes in crop production and crop testing at CSU, while Davis is an environmental soil scientist.

Davis brought along many hand tools, traditional clothing and pictures to show attendees from her time in the country. Johnson gave a speech about his time in Niger and reminded those at the event to keep in mind and learn from the quote, "One World. One Origin. One Race." Local band Open Air also played at the event.

The inspiration for "Rammin' the Famine" came after Anderson showed her SP420 class a Nightline episode focusing on hunger in Niger.

"It struck me as an issue that was political but not partisan," Anderson said. "I presented it to them just as an option, but they were all very affected by this episode."

Hunter expressed how she was touched by the episode.

"The part that really touched me was when the father started crying saying, 'God forgive me, I can't feed my family,'" Hunter said. "I mean how often do you really get the chance to be involved with a class project that can have an impact?"

The students involved with the project felt they had learned a lot in the process of putting on the event.

"The people in Niger had such an impact on me," Jandera said. "You just think every time I'm able to go get food, I'm so lucky to be able to do this. I'll always be thankful for what I have; this just had such an emotional impact on me."

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