Global Development student turns schoolwork into a book
Mira Dineen has done something very few undergrads manage to do: turn a class project into a book.
The fourth-year Global Development Studies student is a co-author of Persistent Poverty: Voices from the Margins. It’s a collection of stories from Ontarians living in poverty and a call to action for provincial welfare system reform.
While many of her classmates travelled abroad for their work study placements, Ms Dineen stayed in Kingston to explore poverty in Ontario with School of Business lecturer Jamie Swift and Brice Balmer of the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary. The project is part of a province-wide poverty audit organized by the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition.
Prior to the project, she expect to encounter many people who had grown up in poverty but was surprised by the number of people who came from different backgrounds who said they never thought they would be on welfare.
“There are stereotypes that people in poverty are lazy or alcoholics. That’s really not what we found at all. It was quite an experience to sit down with people and look into their eyes and have them tell you their life story and realize anybody can end up in poverty,” says Ms Dineen. “One person told me, ‘Anybody is one slip on the ice away from being dependent on social assistance.’”
Mr. Swift, who has written a dozen books on social, political and economic issues, praised Ms Dineen for being very perceptive, articulate and instrumental to putting the book together.
“This book couldn’t have happened without her. Mira was integral to this project, says Mr. Swift.
Copies of the book will be sent to politicians to help lobby for reforms to the welfare system. Ms Dineen hopes people who know little about poverty issues will read the book and get a sense of the daily struggles experienced by welfare recipients.
“This book is trying to show the human face of poverty in Ontario. People are struggling to get by and there definitely needs to be changes to the system,” Ms Dineen says.