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by Janet Lovera, ’23

When you start college, everyone tells you that the next four years are for learning about yourself and finding your passions. Although, it’s easy to get stuck focusing on academics amidst the looming deadlines and countless essays. But now that events are once again being hosted all across campus, it is time to search for opportunities to learn more than what’s in a college textbook. This is the time to lay the foundations of who we want to be, what we believe, and what we want to fight for.

Two weeks ago, I attended the film screening of True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality hosted by the Desmond Tutu Peace Lab. I’ll admit, I wasn’t familiar with Bryan Stevenson’s work prior to watching the documentary. But learning about Bryan Stevenson’s story and the mission of the Equal Justice Initiative, along with my personal ties to the topic, sparked a passion in me. By the end of the night, I found myself wanting to learn more about mass incarceration in America and even bought Stevenson’s book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. My interest in learning more about the injustices in American’s prison system, and what I could do be doing to combat them, led me to Bryan Stevenson’s event hosted at Clowes Memorial Hall last week.

“Love mercy and do justice”

Without mercy, we continue to overlook the injustices within our society. Without mercy, we continue to fail to understand the circumstances that cause suffering for various groups of people. Without mercy, we continue to perpetuate systems that were not designed to acknowledge a person’s humanity.

This is our time, as students, to find our passions. But this is also our time, as future leaders, to love mercy and do justice.

 

by Janet Lovera, ’23

“The worst thing we can do is let fear guide us.”

“America is not just a place, but a vision of what we want it to be.”

———-

Over the past few years, we’ve once again been engulfed in a time of uncertainty. The pandemic shocked the nation, impacting the lives of everyone, and we are still learning to navigate our new reality. We’ve all experienced pain and loss, in one form or another, throughout this time. Yet, we as a nation, have struggled to find unity in this shared experience.

The worst thing we can do is let fear guide us.”

As I sat in my room watching Divided We Fall virtually, there were various aspects of the aftermath of 9/11 depicted in the film that resembled what we have once again experienced as a nation throughout the pandemic. We let our fear guide our hearts. During this period of the unknown, we allowed ourselves to become divided instead of unified. We drove each other away in the hopes that we would never have to grow accustomed to the new “normal.” What we managed to achieve instead was causing more pain to those who we associated with our fear.

Valerie Kaur spends her entire film revealing the need to tackle the fear we face during times of uncertainty and loss because of the pain that is inflicted by it. People are hurt, communities are persecuted, and injustice becomes justified. If we accept that we fear the unknown, that there is so much we don’t understand, we are able to look for ways to overcome it. We do not become blinded by that fear, and we learn to grow from it. We educate ourselves, reflect on what we’ve experienced, and reach out to others instead of pulling away. Let our hearts be guided by compassion, knowing that we’ve all experienced pain and loss during this time. Let our hearts be gentle in the way we interact with others as we all continue to navigate the new reality of our lives.

 

 

 

Welcome back Butler!

 

by Daniel Meyers, director Center for Faith and Vocation

Welcome to our Butler students, faculty and staff!  In the past few days I have had elated moments of new welcomes and reconnections in the hallways of the CFV, in the large greenways of campus, crossing parking lots, in Atherton Marketplace, the rooms of Jordan, in the tents sheltered from torrential rain – you name it – the campus is filled with small moments of reunion and new introductions waiting to happen!  Whether you are returning to campus or joining us for your first year, community is happening, and it is wonderful.  Small human moments have allowed the chance to share with others what recent summer months have brought, to join in the expectation of a new year, and to acknowledge what is uncertain and prompting concern.  A campus that thrives on interaction has seen moments of renewal during the orientation weeks and I hope for many reading this, you have experienced some of these moments too. The CFV is excited to welcome everyone back as we get prepared to be an active presence on campus to promote our four central goals:

While it is wonderful to be returning to a new year full of potential, it is still messy and unclear, isn’t it? We, as a society and a campus, are not back to “normal” nor are we on route to repeat last year.  This year has the makings of a new “third thing,” that will require new thinking, new creativity, new flexibility, and new grace.  It has been helpful to approach some of our plans with “third thing thinking” – how do we approach community, relationships, classes, and campus life in this particular moment?  If we can help you navigate those questions, particularly around connecting to communities, learning and dialoguing across difference, finding meaning and purpose in this moment, and grounding your wellness, please know that is what we are thinking about everyday.  Welcome to campus from the CFV – we are here to help you have a year of fulfillment, authenticity, and growth in the most unique of times.

With good wishes,

Rev. Daniel Meyers

 

by David Clark

Working with the CFV this past semester has been so enriching and has encouraged me to reflect more deeply on how I use my skills and passions to create a more inclusive community. I worked with First Congregational UCC Church over the past semester as their Just Peace Intern, and it wasn’t until I got this chance did I begin to question how my life overlapped with these efforts.

To me, just peace requires a conscious commitment and work to improve the worldly community so everyone can have opportunity. It also means that we must be able to welcome in others who are different from us to have a holistic view meant to create justice. In discussions with other CFV interns and internship mentors, I was able to see how this work is deeply rooted in my own personal values, and I concretely identified what these were with Marguerite’s guidance. Identifying and reaching out to my mentors was another crucial part of this process that I know will aid me as I continue to search for my true vocation and others who have these same goals.

Being able to experience so many aspects of leadership throughout my leadership has also given me the resolve to continue working on behalf of others. In all, my work with First Congregational exposed me to community organizing, religious leadership, ways to best cultivate inner peace, professional correspondence skills, and above all, moments to practice community-building. First Congregational prides themselves on being a space for everyone to inhabit and be themselves, regardless of their moment in life or other stigmas they face in the outside world. The CFV and the mentoring program helped me feel validated in this work to create a more inclusive and welcoming community, far beyond what other volunteer or service opportunities ever have before.

It is my hope that my experience over the past semester continues to inspire me to reflect, advocate, share, and advance my own vocational experience in the Indianapolis community and in my future endeavors. I know First Congregational is a faith community that has benefitted from my gifts and passions only because the Center for Faith and Vocation has encouraged me and other Butler students to think critically about why we do what we do. We are all thankful for this experience and will continue to share what we have learned this past semester.

Congratulations to all my fellow interns as well! You all rocked your internships this semester!”

by Yossra Daiya

Peace be upon you. My name is Yossra Daiya. I am a first-year Psychology and Political Science student at Butler University and an Indiana Realtor. In my first year at Butler University, I had the wonderful opportunity to intern with the Muslim Alliance of Indiana as their Faith and Community Outreach Intern. Through this internship, I’ve felt that I’ve been able to give back to the Muslim Community. Understanding the processes that go on behind the scenes to provide the Muslim Community with events such as safety trainings, film screenings,town hall meetings, and fundraisings has been eye-opening to me. I have a newfound appreciation for the people that take the time out of their day to advocate for the Muslim Community and encourage civic engagement amongst the community. The experience has been very humbling to me and allowed me to make connections and friendships outside of my local Islamic community. In creating a directory to connect the different Islamic communities of Indiana I feel that I was able to be a part of a joining force that will bring Muslims in Indiana together. Thank you to the Muslim Studies Endowment and the Center of Faith and Vocation for making this enlightening experience possible. And a big thank you to everyone at the Muslim Alliance of Indiana for making my time with you special and being a part of my learning experience!

by Kealy Welage

Getting to intern with The Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic, through the CFV internship program, provided me with so many amazing opportunities that are helping to shape my future career path. At the start of this internship, I was very interested in law school, but was not completely confident. My time at the Clinic has solidified that this is the career path I am planning to take, and I cannot be more excited about it.

Working with The Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic has just showed how amazing people are and truly has helped me with the concept of forgiveness. Prior to this internship, forgiveness was an intense topic for me and was something I was not always the best at. After hearing people’s stories and all they have been through, my outlook on forgiveness has completely shifted and my perspective of the world and of second chances has shifted with it. After speaking with countless clients and hearing life stories I truly believe human beings are good at the core.

I have loved this internship so much that I am actually continuing to work for them this summer. My advisor, Julie Mennel, is truly a light in this world and a joy to be around and I cannot wait to hear about the next interns experience at this amazing company. I highly recommend this internship to people even if you aren’t interested in law; you will learn so many valuable skills you can use that would benefit and help with any career path!

 

 

 

A Space to Be Brave

by Janet Lovera, ’23

Grappling with existential questions is hard, and it can seem even more intimidating in a room full of 20 other students. What do you say? How do you say it? Should you say anything at all?

The answer becomes clear when you step into an environment encouraging unique perspectives. You share your truths and respect the truths of others. You listen with your heart and learn from the viewpoints everyone brings.
This was the place I found at Brave Dialogues: Interfaith Edition amongst a group of students, all from various religious backgrounds, sharing their thoughts as I learned more about my own.

The beauty of events like Brave Dialogues is they become a safe space for you to grow and even find your own voice, without any pressure to do so. We didn’t all agree as we discussed and reflected on life’s biggest questions. But it was okay because we didn’t need to, this was about more than that. This was about our humanity and how our different perspectives bring us closer together, not farther apart.

We didn’t leave knowing all the answers, no not even close, but we left with something even more important. Understanding that our own perspectives make us human, we’re not so different after all, and that’s the beauty of life.

by Janet Lovera, ’23

When troubling times come, and the fire to fight against the odds burns bright, we look for ways of expressing the emotions that dwell in our hearts. Cultural movements become the catalyst of creation, the basis from which expression is born, and brings back hope into the lives of those who might have otherwise lost it.

Music is art and it comes from the soul; it allows for the voice of one to become the voice of a hundred. A song’s melody breathes air into the lungs and wraps itself around the heart to keep the spark alive. When I saw the film How Sweet the Sound: Gospel in Los Angeles, I will admit I knew nothing of the genre. Despite this, what I felt while listening to the clips of gospel singers stayed with me long after I began to forget the dates. It was warmth and understanding, the community that was found in the songs inspired by the times. But there was also hope, the emotion driving their voices was the belief in a better tomorrow worth fighting for.

We sung our way through history,” has never felt so relevant. There is continued tension, times are changing, and I can only hope it’s for the better. Just as the gospel singers of Los Angeles sang to express themselves during troubling times, we must also find the way to free our emotions from within. Yes, we must fight for what we believe in, but it is just as important to understand how these times are affecting us mentally and emotionally. We must find our own way of singing through history because without it, we may begin to lose hope. There is still so much work to be done, milestones to achieve, it is time for us to find our community that will help us succeed.

 

 

By Alaina Fleming, ’23

This semester, I had the great privilege of fulfilling an internship position through the Center for Faith and Vocation. I specifically served Catholic Charities Indianapolis Immigrant and Refugee Services as a Youth Mentor Intern, and this internship could not have come at a better time for me. With all the personal adjustments we have had to make to our daily lives due to COVID-19, I am indescribably grateful for the opportunities and experiences I gained from this internship. I was afforded the chance to speak with some youth refugee clients, and these conversations will forever remind me of the resilience and grit of the many refugee families in the United States.

Throughout my internship journey, I developed a more compassionate heart for all those who have fled their homes and their countries to seek refuge in another location. They must uproot their lives to find the freedom or safety they are being denied. I have come to appreciate the organizations and people that serve this vulnerable population, especially Catholic Charities Immigrant and Refugee Services. This organization advocates for policies that protect family unity and allow newcomers an opportunity to contribute and participate more fully in their communities. CCUSA provides immigrant and refugee families with the housing, employment, education, mentorship, and support they need to adjust to their lives in an unfamiliar country.

Even though the needs of a refugee family are often considered collectively, parents have vastly different experiences than teenagers and young adults. Refugee children, especially those who do not speak English, have difficulties transitioning to American schools; they serve as translators for their parents, even in mature or private conversations; they often are responsible for helping their parents and younger siblings adjust to American customs and lifestyles. So, in order to better understand the unique challenges that this age group endures upon resettlement, I began creating a youth mentorship project that analyzes the commonalities among youth experiences and finds new ways to make this transition less burdensome in any manner. The youth clients that I had the privilege of speaking with presented astounding courage and determination, and these informative conversations will serve as the foundation for creating a program that caters to their specific needs.

This internship has presented me with a new, empathetic perspective and has allowed me to glimpse what life is like in Indianapolis for refugee families. I am very appreciative for all the conversations and opportunities that this internship has brought me, and I will forever hold these experiences and relationships near to my heart.

by James Ewing, ’21

During my time at Butler, I have felt the pull of two distinct but related passions: engaging with philosophical and faith-related questions through academic research, but also engaging with the community directly and living out these questions. Before the internship, I had some experience with both outlets through my capacity as philosophy major and my role as the president of Butler Meditation. Significantly, however, both of these involvements had resided within in the so called “Butler Bubble” – I was engaging with research and the community within the university and campus setting.

Through my internship with the Center for Interfaith Cooperation (CIC), I had the opportunity to get out of the Butler Bubble and engage with the broader Indianapolis community. Initially, I helped out with big CIC projects like the Festival of Faiths and Interfaith Digital Dialogues, an experience that exposed me not only to different people but different ideas, religions, and traditions. After these projects wrapped up about halfway through the internship, I was left to my own devises to engage the community and become a leader. This was harder than I imagined it would be. Unlike the university setting, where there are a variety of resources, advisors, and programs that are more or less prearranged for emerging campus leadership, this is usually not the case in many “real word” and non-university contexts. Rather, at the CIC I found that it was up to me to reach out to people, create a plan, and fill essential roles and spaces.

The culmination of many weeks of planning, recruiting, and coordination was a successful program of which I was the primary organizer. With the help of several community leaders like Tony Wiederhold, Ian McIntosh, and CIC director Charlie Wiles, I put on an outdoor mindfulness and meditation walk that saw participation from Butler students and Indianapolis community members alike. The fruits of the program (which exceeded my expectations by far) included a restorative and meaningful meditation which allowed participants (including myself) to mindfully connect with ourselves and each other in the midst of a contentious and anxiety-filled social, political, medical climate.

I am grateful to the CIC for giving me the opportunity to grow and become a more assertive leader in the Butler and Indianapolis community.

 

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