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By Maddy Smith

The experience that I’ve had during my time at the Project Grace Help Desk can’t possibly be summed up into 200-300 words but I’ll give it my best shot. There are so many invaluable aspects to this position that have led me to decide to stay on board as a volunteer after the conclusion of my internship. First of all, the absolutely incredible volunteer staff has made me feel like a member of the “Help Desk family” from day one. The manager, Julie, is one of the kindest, most selfless, and inspirational women that I’ve ever met. Not only has she guided me through the internship with an overabundance of patience and understanding, she has also taken me in as one of her own and asked me to watch her dog overnight as well as invited me and a few other volunteers over to her house for Easter lunch. Meeting Julie and being able to work alongside her has been one of the greatest blessings and I’m overjoyed to know that she will remain in my life.

Through my internship I was also able to meet a group of incredible people from a variety of backgrounds. A fellow volunteer, Katie, aside from being the most considerate person I’ve ever met serves as a huge inspiration for me due to the extent to which she dedicates herself to serving the community. She and I share similar educational backgrounds in sociology and we will both enter law school later this summer at Indiana University McKinney downtown. This internship blessed me with irreplaceable friends that I hold so dear to my heart.

The visitors that I’ve been able to help and get to know have also made a huge impact on my viewpoint of life as well as my career goals. Before this internship began I already had an idea that I wanted to practice as a criminal defense attorney but after witnessing firsthand how the legal system affects different members of the Indianapolis community, there is no doubt in my mind that I want to serve as a public defender. There is a certain image of what a “criminal” is that is unfortunately engrained in all of us through our society and whether or not an individual consciously thinks about it, we all make assumptions about who we think “criminals” are. This internship has completely dissolved any preconceived notions that I may have had about different types of people. I have encountered so many different people and they all exist regardless of whether or not they have a criminal record. We as humans are not defined by our mistakes but rather how we grow from those mistakes.

This experience couldn’t have presented itself at a better time in my life. As I get closer and closer to graduating and leaving Butler, my connection to the Indianapolis community as well as the legal community within it only gets stronger. At a time that could potentially be overwhelming and terrifying I am comforted through my friendships and the opportunities that are waiting ahead of me. I am forever grateful for the opportunity that Butler, the Center for Faith and Vocation, and the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic made possible and this experience will stay with me for the rest of my life.

by Diante Graffagnino

Throughout my time at butler, I have come to know what a community is and the what word community means to me.  I have learned that a community is a group of people that supports one another.  A community is a conglomerate of friends, of family, and sometimes of strangers, who move together in congruity.  A community is a safe place that allows every member of the whole to have their own identity.  I believe that, fundamentally, every human being strives for this strong sense of community.

I have had the privilege to work with the Center for Interfaith Cooperation (CIC) whose mission is to foster a community where people from a wide range of backgrounds can dialogue about relevant topics in their lives.  I have been part of meetings, banquets, seminars, and other events that have been made up of people with unique backgrounds all coming together to show support for one another.  One of my favorite events was a small celebration for outgoing Episcopal Bishop Kate Waynick and incoming Bishop-Elect Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows.  I was honored to be asked if I would play piano during this celebration of accomplishments and ambitions.

My friends at the CIC have helped me to see the value in conversation between existing groups of people.  New relationships and bonds can form just by reaching out to other communities.   In this way, I began to see the pattern that exists and a necessity of an interpersonal relationship and how it is just as necessary for that to expand into an intercommunal relationship.  The CIC invigorates the intercommunal relationship perfectly by acting as a catalyst for these essential interactions.

It has been my pleasure to work at the Center for Interfaith Cooperation this past spring.  I will use the all-embracing attitude that the CIC cultivates for the rest of my life.  Most importantly, I am thankful to have been able to work in a place that I can also call my community.

by David Barickman

I came to the Center for Faith and Vocation to help students consider their vocation, explore their faith and or values, and make meaningful connections between the two. While this did happen, I also found myself participating in my own self-exploration.

Speaking as a seminary student, it has not been uncommon for me to use the word “calling” or “vocation” to refer to my future plans. However, just because I attach these words to my future plans doesn’t mean I have unpacked, explored, and wrestled with how I hope to live out my “calling.”

My time this year at Butler’s Center for Faith and Vocation has been an incredible season of personal exploration for me. During my three years at Christian Theological Seminary there have been many vocational questions that I seemed to continually face time and time again. Questions such as: “Do I feel a calling to ordained ministry?” “Is my current denomination the right denomination for me?” “In what type of context am I called to do ministry?” “What am I most passionate about?” “What are my biggest strengths and weaknesses?”

Spending time each week with Daniel reflecting on my experiences at the CFV has been an incredibly clarifying experience. Having the time to unpacking my reactions to my experiences has been a gift.

In one such weekly meeting, I was reflecting on having planned, put together, and facilitated a labyrinth walk in the Reilly room. I found that the experience had been very meaningful for me. In discussing this with Daniel, I came to realize this experience was somewhat of a metaphor for my vocation. Using my skills to plan and facilitate space for others to have a meaningful spiritual experience. This is one of many vocational touchstones I am thankful for in my experience at the CFV.

It’s not that I have ultimately solved or answered the questions I mentioned above. It is more so that I have gained a greater understanding about myself in relation to these questions, so that, when I approach these questions now, I approach them without the anxiety and fear that I once did.

I am excited to take the lessons I learned at the CFV this year and continue to learn about myself and my calling along the journey of life. Hopefully, I will have the chance to aid others in their own self exploration along the way.

 

 

By Abbey DiSano

This past semester I had the privilege of being the Marketing Intern at Trinity Free Clinic.  Trinity Free Clinic is a Catholic, nonprofit organization that provides free healthcare to the uninsured and under insured, low income residents of Hamilton County.  As the Marketing Intern I was able to assist the Marketing Director in a number of projects including writing the quarterly newsletter, developing a social media calendar, soliciting for donations, and helping to plan and promote the annual spring fundraiser.  I really enjoyed this experience as it helped me develop my marketing and event planning skills and gain real-world professional experience.

Working for this organization was incredibly rewarding as I worked in the Trinity Free Office and saw the patients come in and out throughout the day. In observing the patients, I was able to see how thankful they were for Trinity Free Clinic. This organization’s mission is truly inspiring and I am grateful that I was able to be a part of it.

 

By Charis Webb

Working at Catholic Radio Indy (CRI) has taught me that I do not have to sacrifice my morals and values for a job. I can continue to not only hold on to my beliefs, but utilize them in a positive manner to better myself and the community.  As a soon-to-be college graduate, the idea of the workforce and adulthood can seem daunting, especially when everyone keeps asking about my future career plans. It is reassuring to know that there are organizations like CRI that allow faith to flourish in a working environment. I never considered myself to be the “evangelizing” type, but CRI directs its efforts in such a way that talking about Catholicism openly and unabashedly has become second nature to me.  When working our major Catholic Women’s Conference Event, I lost track of the amount of women who came up to me and praised CRI for its work and how they have personally witnessed conversions after hearing some of our shows or seeing our bumper sticker on the back of someone’s car. The results of CRI are tangible, and I have firsthand experience of this. CRI gave a platform to my non-profit I run through Faith in Action and allowed my own charity to grow. I have grown as a person with the guiding hands of Patty Zunica and Barbara Brinkman; two phenomenal supervisors that were more than just bosses, but supportive mentors and friends.  Not only have I grown on a personal level, but my resume has exponentially expanded upon my internship here. CRI has taught me a number of transferable skills in marketing, fundraising, communications, events, advanced technology, and more. Overall, the CRI crew has given me an amazing opportunity to participate in networking with a multitude of individuals who are invested in bettering the Indianapolis community through Catholic teachings and God-inspired outreaches.

 

 

 

by Annika London

During my semester in Washington D.C. last fall, I witnessed the fear and anger that different minority faith communities around me felt after the elections. I knew at that point that once I returned to Butler’s campus, I wanted to find a way to appreciate and strengthen religious pluralism both on campus and in the broader Indianapolis community.

I have greatly enjoyed working as the Communications Intern for the Center for Faith and Vocation. While helping to organize and promote the many fantastic events hosted by the Center, I have been able to see the extent of the diversity at Butler University and in Indianapolis. Events like “Big Questions” and “Talk, Taste, and Listen” have opened my mind to the varied experiences of my peers. I was honored to be able to stand next to the exceptional individuals who participated in the Muslim Student Association’s “Unity Walk.” The “Affirming Our Love” choral concert and the Interfaith Council’s Canvas Painting Night opened my mind to the possibilities of interfaith cooperation and peace through art. And I appreciate every opportunity I have had to directly interact and work with people from many different religions, philosophies, and perspectives who value diversity and pluralism as much as I do.

Interning at the Center for Faith and Vocation was an excellent way to bring my time at Butler University to an end. Looking forward into a future full of open doors, this internship has confirmed my passion for cultivating an appreciation for diversity. Beyond that, I am excited to carry the skills I have built, the experiences I have gained, and the perspectives I have absorbed into whatever future journey I choose to pursue.

 

 

 

by Lynn Alsatie

From the beginning of my internship at the Center for Interfaith Cooperation, I found myself to be going through a time in which I was deconstructing and rebuilding my beliefs about everything that is around me. Working in many of the CIC’s events helped me because they provided spaces in the Indianapolis community to communicate ideas about not only religion, but also about history, culture, literature, and politics. The CIC’s goal of bringing people from differing backgrounds to talk about important and controversial issues extended to even its own office, in which there was an environment that encouraged, rather than avoided, the clashing of ideas. Needless to say, it was incredibly relieving to work in a place where I could talk about things and have the people around me freely share their ideas too.

I was lucky enough to meet some incredible people during my internship who helped me see my own religion from a refreshing point of view. Mysticism had fascinated me as a subject because in the same religion, it could be seen by some as pure heresy and by others as the fundamental life and soul of the entire religion. By the end of my time at the CIC, I had put on the event I had been dreaming of since the beginning: a panel on mysticism where people could have the space to learn about the deep spirituality in their own faiths they may have not even known existed. Out of this experience, I was able to talk to mystics of different faiths face to face, and I learned so much from the similarities and differences I saw.

The most valuable thing I believe I took from this experience was the knowledge that there are many people in Indianapolis interested in tackling the issues in our society and understanding all kinds of points of view. The root cause of conflict in this country seems to be the fact that many people are afraid to discuss things that may disturb the peace, leaving these issues instead to boil over much later when the resentful feelings are too deep to be reached with understanding. I’m positive that in Indianapolis, the CIC plays an essential role and will surely continue to do so throughout the polarizing times ahead. I was very lucky to be part of it for a short time, and I’ll definitely miss an entire office of fantastic people.

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by Salman Qureshi

I’ve always been drawn to conversation. Whether I’m at the dinner table or I’m at a ball game, I’ve always found dialogue as a tool to connect with people. Dialogue allows people with different backgrounds to learn about each other’s differences and find the similarities between them. This inspired me to find a way to bind students together through dialogue. As the CFV Interfaith Intern, I wanted to develop an avenue where people of different faith backgrounds could come together to share their beliefs in a welcoming manner. Most of all, I wanted to share and celebrate the religious diversity that exists at Butler with the entire community.

Would students be genuinely interested in being involved? Would they find it uncomfortable or uninviting? Maybe they would not even bother in participating with preconceived notions about interfaith? As I started on this journey, I had questions these and other questions that eventually helped shape what the Interfaith Council would become. I connected with fellow CFV staff to develop a program that was built on conversation and togetherness, rather than hierarchy and misconceptions.

Thankfully, all of my questions were answered quickly by Council members. From the first meeting, I’ve seen the positivity that has come from the group. We have found a large amount of similarities between our respective faith traditions and gained a deeper understanding of our differences. Our conversations are built on a foundation of tolerance and engagement, allowing everyone to connect beliefs to one another to build a strong sense of community. Discussions often carry over long after the meeting is over and push us to dive in deeper in our own faiths. Most importantly, I have seen strong friendships between Council members that will last long after this semester. With that, I know that interfaith dialogue will continue to grow here at Butler and long after.

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by Natalie Smith

Center for Faith and Vocation Communications Intern

Growing up, I attended very diverse schools. I was always surrounded by people who came from different backgrounds and looked, thought and spoke differently than I did. I thought this was a completely normal experience for anyone my age. Arriving at Butler, I quickly realized that my background in diversity was very different from my friends’ around me. I found that my best friends at Butler were used to only being around people who were similar to them. Because Butler itself lacks substantial diversity, my next four years as a student would find me where my friends had always been:  surrounded by homogeneity. Interning at the CFV this semester, however, has helped me to be reunited with the amount of diversity that I have always felt comfortable in. I’ve gotten the opportunity to work and form relationships with people of many different faiths, backgrounds and thoughts.

My favorite CFV event I participated in was leading a post-election discussion entitled: “How do we participate in patterns of injustice?” I got to witness first-hand the outpouring of support and compassion that was given to students who spoke openly about how they have faced injustices in our society. That small display of the Butler community coming together was life-affirming and is a memory that will always stay with me.

The CFV staff genuinely cares about the Butler community’s wellbeing and growth. Being around these passionate people has helped me to understand the true value in a workday. My hope for future interns is that they are able to see the benefits of diversity. I hope they can truly appreciate the CFV’s work and mission and learn something about themselves through that mission like I have.

by Kaytlin Lake

My experience at the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic this semester has been so incredibly influential to my vocational trajectory.  As a non-profit, pro bono legal service, the clinic works with clients who just want to be heard, validated, and stood up for in a world where the odds seem to always be stacked against them.  Specifically in the immigration department, I have had the privilege of meeting some of the real people affected by hot-topic government policies.  A mother fleeing domestic violence in Mexico was being tracked like an animal by a bulky ankle cuff.  A father feared deportation while his young son was receiving medical treatment for his recently discovered Leukemia.  A working professional sought asylum from Venezuela where a popular gang had been terrorizing their entire family because of alleged government ties.  I witnessed flaws in our esteemed legal system, but I also witnessed the selfless love and commitment to justice that the volunteers and staff of the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic and its partners exhibit each and every day.  My heart was broken, the perfect image in my head of this great country was shattered, but most importantly a fire was lit inside of me to relentlessly fight for the defenseless, to be a model of compassion and empathy, and to always remember that actual human beings on the ground are affected by each government policy put in place, each law passed, each court trial decided.  These lives affected are not statistics, not theoretic ethical dilemmas or case studies.  These are brothers, daughters, fathers, grandmothers — real people — and they need my help.

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