What a Year! It’s been an exciting semester. Apart from my work at the CFV, I took my last semester of undergraduate classes, decided to move to the Chicago next fall, experienced cattle-call dance auditions (and the accompanying rejection), and got all nostalgic about leaving the place that has been my home for the last four years. Lots of things have been changing, and it’s been wonderful to know that I will always be welcome at the CFV after I graduate. Thinking back, I guess I’ve really spent a lot of time in the house this year. I hosted yoga once per week as part of Mind, Body, Spirit Tuesdays, I attended lots of group meetings, and I sent an ungodly number of emails to get ready for Interfaith Baccalaureate. I’ve loved every minute of it, but it was certainly a lot easier since it was my second semester in this position. And, if I’m being honest, there are things I learned on the job which, had I known earlier, would have changed my approach.
Working with the faith groups on campus is such a wonderful job, because, in essence, you just get to hang out with people and make new friends. I remember the first MSA meeting I went to; by the time the meeting ended, I was on the MSA listserv and had an invitation to go to dinner and a haunted house with some members of the group. For someone who likes to talk to people, this part of the job was perfect. The difficult part about interacting with the faith groups is that, occasionally, you have to actually plan some events. And let me tell you, Butler students are busy. I discovered that mass emails are NOT the way to go if you want people to attend an event. I had much better luck when I got a few leaders form groups on my side and, essentially, had them do the recruiting for me.
I was a little disappointed that it was consistently the same few groups that were willing to do interfaith activities. I understand that interfaith isn’t important or even on everyone’s radar. Unwillingness to be involved in interfaith seems contrary to the Butler Way, which confuses me because most Butler students seem pretty in-tune and supportive of the Butler Way in any other setting. I wonder if some groups just think that they shouldn’t be interested in interfaith; maybe one good experience with interfaith work is all it would take to make unwilling faith groups realize how much it fits with their own ideals. I wish I had been able to find a way to test that theory while doing this internship, but maybe it just takes time and a gentle but persistent interfaith presence.
Planning Baccalaureate was so much fun, but it also involved a lot of pestering via email. The biggest struggle was getting people to take 5 minutes to invite their friends to the Facebook event, which was funny because many of them sent me a copy of their speech for Baccalaureate within a few days. I think the secret to this is persistence in person. I tried to remind people whenever I saw them because that made me feel less guilty than sending a ton of emails. And it turns out that I got better results from that anyways.
My last wish for this internship is that more faculty members become involved in interfaith. There were a few that I could count on, but most of that was because their students were already planning interfaith projects. I think getting help from faculty would help people see the interfaith presence on campus, and maybe make the shy ones more willing to join the movement.
Interfaith, right now, has a very small role on this campus. But it is also a welcoming and friendly role, a role that is eager and willing to invite others in. I hope that this position stays alive in the CFV for many years to come and that, slowly, it will gain a bigger following at Butler. It is such an important part of the CFV and is a wonderful chance to work with some great people.
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