Goal of the event:
To raise awareness and to make students experience how it feels to do an everyday life task, such as eating and navigating, without being able to use the sense of vision.
Short description of the event:
Exchange students "lost their sense of vision" at the entrance to our restaurant. Board and active members of ESN Jyväskylä were guiding them to their place and throughout the dinner. After taking their seats, the dining guests were exploring their table, pouring their drinks themselves and starting with buttering their breads as their starter. Then the main course was served - a food consisting of different components and consistencies. Knifes and forks had to be used to master it. Our servants were mainly acting like in a real restaurant, giving additional help only when needed. Afterwards the participants also had the opportunity to try navigating with equipment borrowed from the Visually Impaired Association of Central Finland, e.g. white canes. In the end participants were asked about their feelings, experiences and feedback.
How did your event go?:
The students had fun and gave positive feedback about this experience, which was very new to them. Some of them mentioned, that they never really thought of how difficult an every day life task like eating can get, when one of your senses is suddenly not active anymore. They also found it very interesting to try out the navigating equipment. Some found it more difficult than others, but everyone rated it as an enriching experience. As the "servants" you always have to keep in mind that YOU can still see, but the dining guests can not. Instructions have to be given differently, people might be scared if you suddenly stand behind them and start talking. Another difficulty is to make sure everyone gets their special diet, as people won't see what they are eating. This event could especially be improved by giving the servants a similar experience before they act as servants, so they will know how the blindfolded people will feel. The borrowed equipment was a great addition, if there had been more time it could have been nice to make an 'obstacle course' for participants to navigate. Additionally it would be great to have a person with visual impairment speaking about his/her personal experiences.