Wichita residents experience life in another country without leaving Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Thousands of people in Wichita experienced what it’s like to live in a developing country.

The Compassion Experience tour bus was in Wichita from Nov. 11 – Nov. 14. The free event featured an interactive journey through the true stories of children living in countries like the Philippines, Kenya, Uganda and the Dominican Republic.

“It’s almost as if they are leaving the country without really leaving their country,” said Compassion Experience Spokesperson Summer Cook.

Visitors had the chance to step into three children’s lives during the tour. Through the use of an iPod, a headset and a 3,000 square foot space, people walked through homes, schools and markets, all while listening to the children’s stories of poverty and hope.

“A lot of kids they see it on TV, but they don’t really know. I think the most beautiful part of the experience is they really truly get to experience what it’s like to live in a different country,” Cook said.

Jennifer Winter of Wichita took her three kids through the experience.

“We kind of prepared them ahead of time that it might feel, you know, dark or not as bright or colorfully decorated as our house,” Winter said.

The goal of the experience is to open up the conversation about helping others and showing compassion to people who are less fortunate. It is also an opportunity for anyone who has never had the chance to travel outside of the United States to get a glimpse of what life can be like in developing countries.

“Sometimes it’s important to take a step back and take a look at what other people don’t have and how much we are really blessed with and we can concentrate on being thankful for the things that God has given us,” Winter said.

Winter’s oldest child Audrey, 7, said she was touched by the tour.

“It kind of felt sad. They had to live in a tiny little room when others in other places have a big room and have lots of things,” Audrey said. “It makes me thankful a lot.”

“I think that’s really cool to get kids at such a young age for their wheels to start turning and say ‘Oh, everything doesn’t look like my hometown. There is different parts of the world that are different than the way I live,'” Cook said.

At the end of the self-guided tour visitors can choose to sponsor a child from a developing country for $38 a month.

More than 3,000 people went through the Compassion Experience while it was in Wichita.