Senior Undergrad Clarinda Blais Is Teaching Philosophy to Homeless Shelters and Changing Lives

Clarinda Blais, 22-year-old Boston University senior and philosophy student, founded the Free Philosophy Project almost two years ago with the goal of closing the class divide of homeless people, and those people who are not homeless, Women in the World reports.

Conducting philosophy sessions each Thursday morning at St. Francis House day shelter and eleven shelters to date around the Boston area, Blais leads each discussion around one philosophical quandary, asking its participants to reflect on their values and lives.

"Are people born good, or do they learn how to be good?" she asks a group of four women, The Washington Post reports.

And there is the birth of a debate.

Blais' works to expand academia by discussing topics relevant to all walks of life, to get women active in debates where they form original opinions and thought.

"[Philosophy is] actually the most accessible of all academic fields," Blais told The Washington Post. "It just requires you to reflect on your experience, and everyone has their own experience."

The project has proven successful as an experience in its own right for many of the participants, expanding the act of questioning experience and thought.

"I get to tell my story. I get to tell my feelings," Hope Daniels, a 50-year old woman who has struggled with a crack addiction and a brain tumor, said. "[Blais] doesn't look at me funny when I say whatever comes out of my mouth. I just let it go."

Blais' advisor and philosophy department chair at BU, Allen Speight, said that the learning experience goes both ways.

"People who live by their wits and whose lives have had a more difficult passage are people who have a lot of philosophical questions that might be sharper in some ways, much rawer than people who have had a more privileged existence," Speight said.

Watch The Washington Post's video of Blais and her students in the video below.

NEXT: How One Woman Is Helping the Homeless, One Scarf at a Time »

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