A student-organized exhibit provides a unique angle into the world of homeless youth. The exhibit, “Runaways and Throwaways: Homeless Youth in Yamhill County,” organized by senior anthropology major Shannon Merrick, opened April 8 in the Linfield Anthropology Museum.

Sociology and Anthropology Department Chair and Professor of Anthropology Thomas Love, who attended the opening reception, said it was a good experience for anthropology majors to independently curate an entire show.

Compared to the typical, historically themed exhibit, “Runaways” focuses on a current issue: homeless youth who are without a safe, stable, permanent and adequate place to live.

Most homeless youth stay with friends and “couch surf” instead of sleeping on the street, which by definition is still considered homelessness. These “hidden homeless” make it easy for the general public to deny that there is an issue. But approximately 380 homeless youth are in Yamhill County today, according to the SOAN news release emailed campus-wide April 2.

“Just because people haven’t seen anyone sleeping on 3rd Street doesn’t mean there are no homeless people,” Merrick said. “For homeless youth, it’s also related to family issues and

[lack of trust] in relationships with others.”

The reasons for their homelessness are that they are runaways, youth who left home without permission, or throwaways, youth forced to leave home by their primary caregivers.

Merrick said these youth are more likely to have problems with drinking, drugs and pregnancy.
“If it weren’t for my friends, I would have committed suicide,” a homeless youth said at the exhibit.
Merrick said she interviewed a homeless youth named RJ and gave him her phone number. Then they became friends and sometimes called each other. But Merrick hasn’t see Rj recently.

“I guess there was no stable place for RJ, and he left from 3rd Street,” Merrick said. “He is not the only one like that.”

She also said she hopes the community as well as youths’ families can make some changes for these youth because the help of community isn’t much as of late.

The exhibit is free and open 8 a.m. — 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, until the end of August.
For more information, contact Merrick at smerric@linfield.edu

Yin Xiao
Culture editor Yin Xiao can be reached at linfieldreviewculture@gmail.com


April 10, 2010

400 words1.5 min read