A glass full of conscience

Students fall into a virtual journey through Ethiopia by wearing computer generated simulation goggles. Credit: Monica Sudfield

Students fall into a virtual journey through Ethiopia by wearing computer generated simulation goggles. Credit: Monica Sudfield

By Cody Louie | Published April 7, 2017

While the majority of us reach for a bottle of water to quench our thirst with ease we often overlook the hardships that most of the world experiences. For Selam, a 13-year-old living in Ethiopia, that luxury doesn’t exist.

“The Source”, a virtual reality (VR) event held in the Miron Student Center (MSC) by the Human Rights Institute (HRI) at Kean University on March 21-23 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. immerses viewers into the experience.

It focuses on Selam and her family’s hardships with everyday life living with minimal, stagnant, leech infested water which makes them sick and their path to obtaining clean water.

The use of VR allows for the viewer to be dropped into the situation in first person and see the environment for themselves. Th is makes the viewing more of an experience due to the interactive nature when one sees the lifestyle of Selam’s family.

According to Ellen Johnson, a graduate assistant at the Human Rights Institute, the video is all a real story which some may find eye-opening. “The Source” aims to bring people to an understanding that the global water crisis, while not apparent to first world countries, does exist.

The video itself was presented through the Within: storytelling for VR mobile application and co-produced by “CharityWater” and VRS. The event was a kick-start for the 10th annual conference organized by the HRI.

Continuing with the theme of the global water crisis, this year’s conference was titled “Half Empty: The Depths of the Global Water Crisis.” The conference took place on Friday, March 24 in Wilkins Theater from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

It featured three speakers: Robert Glennon, Doc Hendley and Salva Dut.

Glennon is known for his commentary on water’s law and policy throughout the nation. Hendley is the founder of Wine to Water, a non-profit dedicated to providing clean water around the globe.

Lastly, Dut is the founder of the non-profit group “Water for South Sudan” (WFSS). WFSS is known for drilling over 280 wells in one of the world’s poorest regions.

Tiago Barros, junior sustainability major who volunteered for the event said that they are, “trying to bring people to understand the water crisis.” And that, “it’s easier to visualize it.”

The video is presented in a 360° headset supplied by the environmental sustainability department, which allows users to look around to become fully engrossed in the environment. However, Barros also said that due to the use of stationary chairs, for the future it would be ideal to have ones that swivel for full functionality.

Overall, Barros described it as a good experience, and “[people] need to see it for themselves to kind of be in the moment.”

The School of Environmental Sustainability Sciences had their students volunteer to assist in operation of the event.

March 23 was the last day to experience Selam’s story in the MSC, however, it is available through the free Within mobile application as well as online.

Comments - review our comment policy