On 29th March, a hot summer afternoon, two S4 classes set off for Crossroads Foundation, where we were immersed in the harsh realities of extreme poverty as part of our excursion for the year. It was both eye-opening and meaningful. Reality for the Poor Learning about poverty from books or from the Internet could never be the same as experiencing it and it is with this goal, that the excursion was planned. We needed to experience the struggles of impoverished communities before we can develop a true understanding and a greater sense of empathy towards those who are less fortunate than us. This began with us sitting in a bleak and spartan room, much like a military camp, where our facilitator, Mr David Begbie, implored us to explore the systemic injustices in our world and recognise that there is something wrong with it. Being brought up in Hong Kong, an affluent urban area, most of us have little exposure to the harsh realities of poverty, except when watching the occasional charity appeal on television. This experience made us comprehend the stark reality that there are people in this world who struggle to attain even the most basic of necessities, such as food, shelter, education, and sanitation. Eye-opening Lessons Learned Through the excursion, we learned that breaking free from the cycle of poverty is an arduous task, one that is made nearly impossible by the numerous hurdles to those born into impoverished families. We experienced firsthand the daily struggle to make a living and were struck by the dehumanising and unfair nature of poverty. In the simulation, we had to beg and grovel to sell our paper bags to get on the good side of the shopkeepers and if we failed to appease them, they would rip our bags apart right in front of our faces! We were even forced to part with our valuables, even resorting to selling our kidneys or giving ‘hugs’ just to survive. It was heartbreaking when we realised that the ‘hugs’ were a metaphor for young people being snatched away and forced into lives of prostitution and exploitation just to feed their families. Following the simulation, we engaged in a reflective discussion to explore various ways to break the cycle of poverty, such as providing accessible education and meals to children or offering family planning education to parents. We recognised that there are countless ways to address this issue, but most importantly, that we should do something. Until we collectively realise the magnitude of the problems and take concerted steps to address the cycle of poverty, it will continue to destroy the lives of countless individuals. Going Beyond the Classroom Expanding our learning experiences is crucial for our holistic development as it broadens our perspectives and enriches our personal and professional growth. Through participation in new activities, such as this excursion, we can gain a deeper understanding of the issues that afflict our world and are motivated to take actions to address them. We acquire new skills and knowledge in diverse fields and may even discover a calling to work in those fields. Such learning experiences enable us to develop cultural awareness and empathy towards those from different backgrounds and circumstances. The Crossroads excursion enabled us to step into the shoes of the impoverished and comprehend their struggles from their perspectives. We emerged with a greater appreciation for the human experience and a desire to make a positive impact on the world. The Crossroads excursion was a powerful and transformative learning experience that left a deep impression in our hearts. It taught us to be more empathetic and engaged citizens of the world, and we are grateful for the opportunity to have participated in such a meaningful activity. We look forward to joining more activities in the future!