What do you know about the world?

What do you know about the world?

It was our first day of classes in the Latin American Studies Program in Costa Rica. I was in a new country with culture shock coursing through my veins.
We took a pop quiz on the “State of the World.”
 Everybody failed.
 Our professor wondered how we—educated college students from an ‘elite’ country —could fare so poorly. I was mad. How did I not know this stuff? What had I been doing with my life? I had been in school since the age of four, but I couldn’t answer a few basic questions about the state of my country and the world? It was multiple choice!
Yes, they were filled with startling statistics and words like “ecological footprint,” but I should know more.
One of the questions was “how many children die each day due to poverty.”
My professor asked, “Why don’t we hear more about this? 22,000 kids die every day due to preventable causes.A jumbo jet holds around 500 people. Imagine if 44 jumbo jets crashed every day. Would that make news? What about if they were filled with kids? Would that be on TV?”

Some students were depressed. Others didn’t know what to say, but I decided to choose to be thankful. We’re paying a load of money to have an education.

Should we be trained to regurgitate facts without delving into the deeper story?

What better place to struggle with reality than in a different country, where you’re forced to take a different worldview whether you want to or not.

If you’d like to take the quiz yourself:

State of the World Inventory: What do we know about the world?

1. The population of the world is currently just over 7 billion. Approximately how many of the world’s 7 billion people live on $2 or less per day?
    1. 125 million
    2. 650 million
    3. 1.25 billion
    4. 2.80 billion

2. The number of children who die each day due to poverty:


a. 9000
d. 30,000

3. The world’s 3 richest men have wealth equal to $197 billion. This is equal to the combined GDP of the world’s poorest:


    1. 2 nations
    1. 13 nations
    1. 21 nations
    1. 47 nations

4.  Match the following countries to their “ecological footprint,” a measure of the resources consumed by the lifestyle of the average inhabitant, expressed as hectares of land consumed per citizen.


    1. United States                                                            A. 0.6
    1. China                                                                         B. 2.2
    1. United Kingdom                                                       C. 2.7
    1. Bangladesh                                                               D. 4.9
    1. Costa Rica                                                                E. 8.0

5. Statistics released by Oxfam show that governments are allowing individuals and companies to hide _ in offshore accounts to avoid paying fair taxes.  This money could go to providing food, education, infrastructure or health services for the world’s most vulnerable populations.


    1. $20 million
    2. 43.5 billion
    3. 18.5 trillion

6. The U.S. is the world’s largest bilateral donor of foreign aid, projected to provide $56.1 billion in military and economic assistance in 2013. This accounts for approximately what percentage of the country’s total GDP?


    1. 10%
    1. 4%
    1. 2%
    1. 1%
    1. 0.5%

7. Name the countries that were the largest recipients of U.S.  foreign and economic and military aid in 2012: 1__ 2. ___ 3___ 4___ 5___


8. The military spending of the U.S. is approximately what percentage of the world’s total military spending?


    1. 39%   B. 32%   C. 23%   D. 10%    E. 6%

9. U.S. women who work full-time earn __ for every dollar earned by men performing the same jobs.


    1. $0.93   B. $0.81   C. $0.77 D. $0.54

10. The percentage of U.S. tax dollars in 2011 spent on:

Defense                                          A. 6        B. 12      C.16       D. 19
Education                                      A. 2        B. 8       C.19       D. 27
Social Security                               A.4         B.10       C.14       D.22
Scientific and Medical research   A.2         B.8         C.16       D.21
Safety Net/ Welfare programs     A. 12       B.20      C.29       D.32

1. 2.8 billion People live on less than $2 a day. This does not take in account the millions more living on a little over $2

2. 22,000 children die due to preventable causes each day. As I mentioned before that’s roughly 44 jumbo jets full of kids.

3. The world’s 3 richest men have as much money as the combined GDP of 47 of the world’s poorest nations.

4.  U.S.  8 hectares of land consumed per citizen
U.K.  4.9
Costa Rica 2.7
China  2.2
Bangladesh 0.6

5. Individuals and companies have an estimated $18.5 trillion hidden in offshore accounts. That’s trillions.

Think of it this way: we know $197 billion equals the amount of money the poorest 47 nations make in a year.

197 billion goes into 18.5 trillion about 93.9 times.

This is enough money to fund over 4000 countries’ GDPs. If that many countries existed. (There are only 196 countries in the world today if you count Taiwan.) 


6. U.S. foreign aid accounts for about 0.5% of the country’s total GDP.


7. Largest recipients of foreign aid: 1. Israel 2. Afghanistan 3. Pakistan 4. Iraq  5. Egypt


8. U.S. military spending is about 39% of the world’s total military spending.


9. U.S. women who work full time make about $0.81 for every dollar men make at the same jobs.


10.  And last but not least… where do your taxes go?

In 2011:

    1. Social Security                                          22%
    1. Defense                                                     19%
    1.  Safety net/ welfare programs                 12%
    1. Education                                                  2%
    1. Scientific and Medical research               2%


“Knowledge without transformation is not wisdom.”
Paulo Coehlo


2 thoughts on “What do you know about the world?

  1. Ashleigh…. FYI, I am going to share the quiz (and your intro) with my network via FB and Twitter. So, you might get a few more visitors to your blog… I hope so, because your message is important.

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