For Greens Farms Academy graduate Chris Temple, it wasn't enough to simply study world economics. He and his college roommate, Zach Ingrasci, wanted to experience firsthand what it meant to live in poverty.
So they and two filmmaker friends spent eight weeks living in the tiny village of Pena Blanca in Guatemala during the summer of 2010, subsisting on a total of just $224 for the entire summer.
"We were both economics majors studying economic development," said Ingrasci, who hails from Seattle, Wash. "We just kept running into this huge statistic, like 1.1 billion people live for under a dollar a day."
"We needed a deeper understanding of what that meant," he said.
The young men's experiences moved them to establish a nonprofit agency called Living on One, which, according to its website, "creates engaging media to connect our peers with the reality of poverty and inspire us all to take action."
The first fruits of that labor are a film called "Living on One Dollar," which records their $1-a-day experiences.
Along with his partner, Temple, 22, a 2009 Greens Farms graduate and former Fairfield resident who now lives in Los Angeles, came home to his native Fairfield County on Wednesday night to debut the film for an enthusiastic audience at Pequot Library.
"We were very excited to have them here," said Martha Lord, the Pequot Library director. "I actually knew Chris when he was a student at Greens Farms Academy, and it's so exciting to see where his experiences have brought him."
Lord said part of the goal of the library is to offer information and programs that relate to issues of world concern. "World poverty is one of those key issues," she said.
"You guys are the first people actually to see this final vision," said Temple, who was scheduled to address a group of 500 student at the United Nations on Thursday and announce that the film had been picked up for distribution by IndieFlix.
The film documents the struggles the four encountered in Guatemala -- fleas, hunger and, for Temple, a serious bout with an intestinal parasite -- as well as the faces of the locals they came to know and befriended.
"There are some things that a textbook just can't answer," Temple narrates in the film.
While audience members were moved by the film itself, many who knew Temple were also impressed with his accomplishments.
"It's amazing to see a little boy grow up and do something so incredible," said his stepfather Rod Fisher. "He's an amazing kid."
Janet Hartwell, head of school at Greens Farms Academy, introduced the team at Wednesday's screening, remembering Temple as "a bit of a scamp."
"He actually could never sit still," she said, "but Chris's restlessness, I think, served him well."
To date, she said teasers for the film have attracted more than 650,000 hits on YouTube.
"It's exciting," she said. "He's really followed a passion -- pursued it and followed it through to fruition. He was always a good students, and it's exciting to see him conclude a venture."
"The film was done really well, and it was really interesting," said Jill Birinyi of Southport, who chairs the GFA board of directors.
"It was courageous, I think, to do what they did," she said.
"The idea literally was born in a bar," Ingrasci said, "probably over too many drinks."
He said funding for the project was turned down 12 times, but they finally received $5,000 that was used to fund the whole undertaking.
"It really was just we wanted to spend our summer doing something meaningful," he said.