I teach an experiential learning course in Mumbai, India, in which MBA students visit and mentor schoolchildren in slums. The goal is to help children explore their areas of interest and strengthen their capabilities. These relationships are yearlong journeys of discomfort and discovery.
At the end of the year, I ask my students to answer the question, “Why is your mentee’s family poor?” In a group discussion, we examine popular misconceptions. Are the poor lazier than, say, those in your own family or community? Are they somehow less capable? Is there some cultural or religious reason they are poor? Is it a lack of gender parity? A lack of ambition? A lack of interest in education?
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