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By Cora Parker, ’25

Much like any other forms of art, ballet is rooted in a world of tradition. From the music played to the choreography performed, the rich history of the art form is one that stretches across centuries and is actively demonstrated in performances today. Behind its beautiful nature, the industry happens to be filled with affirmed standards of what a picturesque prima ballerina should be. One with skin that gleams like a porcelain doll, an elongated body type void of all curves and weight, and a preconceived notion that highly sought-after parts should be performed by dancers sharing the same look of those who performed it traditionally.

However, diversity is often a characteristic that strays from the model of early 20th century traditional ballet, despite the efforts towards cultivating acceptance and inclusion in society today. A Ballerina’s Tale moves the curtain to what takes place beyond the stage, away from the audience’s eye, and sheds light on the industry’s dying need for the normalization of diversity and belonging.

The documentary follows the story of Misty Copeland, a world-renowned American Ballet Theater dancer, and first African American woman to dance a principal role in the company. Director Nelson George looks beyond the stage and illuminates the difficulties of people of color in the industry.

Opening with the sounds of point shoes gliding across the hollow dance floor, overlaid with recorded footage of Misty Copeland’s childhood home, family, and beginning roots of dance, a sense of genuine hard work, passion, and dedication is felt from the film’s initial scenes. Moving from that, the story is narrated by Misty herself, as well as her mentors, friends, family, and all those who helped her along the way of creating a name for herself in the world of dance, even when it seemed all odds were stacked against her. Among other challenges such as a debilitating injury and career threatening surgery, Misty never gave up. She saw herself as something bigger than just a principal dancer, she represented a community of marginalized people in the industry and upheld a position as a beacon of hope for all those like her.

Following the screening, Butler University’s very own Professor of Dance, Ramon Flowers, led an open, communicative discussion for all those in the audience. Professor Flowers is a longtime friend and colleague of Misty, he shared his own relation to A Ballerina’s Tale and how going forward he strives to create an atmosphere of belonging and inclusion among all disciplines of dance.

I had the opportunity to speak to Professor Flowers a few moments after the screening ended and asked him what he felt the classical ballet industry needed in terms of growth in the modern era. Just like the message Misty vocalized in the documentary, Professor Flowers reiterated that the fault of classical ballet’s roots in systematic inequality will continue to hinder progression in the future. Without creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable, valued, and feels as though they belong, so many individuals with talent are left behind or looked over.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are crucial elements of growth that relate to every aspect of our lives, and A Ballerina’s Tale is a powerful example of how prevalent conversations about DEI need to be in all industries. It takes the actions and power of every individual to continue to strive for growth and change.

By Cora Parker, ’25

Right beyond our front door surges of activism spread throughout Indiana everyday. Some may go unseen overall while others are the face of progressive movements in communities, but nonetheless, each one is crucial to helping those in their times of need.

On Tuesday, October 25th, audience members found their way to Shelton Auditorium to hear from a panel of local Indiana philanthropists and nonprofit leaders that are passionately pursuing callings of service toward their prospective communities. Students and community members listened with soft hearts and open minds while David Bethuram with the Catholic Charities, Lori Joundi with Muslim Alliance of Indiana, Josh Riddick with the Black Churches Coalition for Faith in Indiana, and Ray Wilson with Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light, shared experiences from careers centered around nonprofit work, and their continuing work to enhance the lives of all Indiana citizens.

The panelists spoke on a series of questions mediated by the 2022-2023 Faith and Activism Seminar director, Dr. Brent Hege. One question however, deeply resonated with me; the question of whether one’s personal faith belongs in nonprofit and activism work. The panelists gathered their thoughts for a moment, then began to speak from their point of view, but the undertone of every answer held a similar core value. Faith is the backbone of each panelist’s personal drive for nonprofit work, and for their perspective organizations. Josh Riddick said as he began to speak that “faith is the sustainable factor for supporting activism and its results.” A background of faith in many different varieties is what each panelist looks to for the motivation to tirelessly work towards assisting Indiana communities. Faith itself is not only a feeling or belief, but a foundation of grounding values at the core of everyone’s calling of service. Activism is ignited by one’s passion for change, but without faith, there is nothing to turn towards when things grow difficult.

After a series of guided questions by Dr. Hege, the auditorium was opened towards the audience for their questions and feedback. Audiences of both students and community members asked thoughtful and inquisitive questions about numerous areas of nonprofit and activism work. The final question of the event came from a fellow student, asking the panelist about their advice for students wanting to be involved in activism work. As a Butler student myself this was incredibly applicable to me, and the insight shared by each panelist was tremendously encouraging. They urged students to allow themselves grace in how much we try to take upon ourselves in the duration of our college experience. College is a time for growth and discovery and better activism in the future is formed by these foundation periods of life, but that does not mean if a student is passionate about a cause it cannot be pursued. Each panelist mentioned that they value the ideas and minds of our generation. We think in a new path, which is crucial to the growth of society, not just nonprofit and activism work. College is also a wonderful opportunity to build community around those who share similar passions and callings, so use every opportunity it can provide for you.

Overall, Faith in Indiana was an extraordinary event, each panelist gave thoughtful, genuine words and provided the audience with new perspectives to bring into their own lives and communities. It is easy for people to become wrapped up in the world around themselves, leaving room to forget those that are in need. Faith in Indiana was a reminder of the life changing work happening in our state every day, and we have the opportunity to bring our values, insight, and passions to help continue the growth and equality for everyone living around us.

The Power of  Faith, Activism, and Educational Conversation

by Cora Parker, ’25

What role do Faith and Activism play in modern society? The annual Butler Seminar on Religion and Global Affairs plans to answer exactly within the four part lecture series: Faith and Activism. 

For 22 years the Seminar has brought “Scholarship in combination with realistic language for the matters of daily life,” said Assistant Director of Butler University’s Center for Faith and Vocation, Marguerite Stanciu. The Center for Faith and Vocation, commonly referred to as the “Blue House ” across from the Howard L. Schrott Center for the Arts, remains a main producer of the Seminar from its inaugural series, continuing into this year’s fully first in-person production since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Looking deeper into this year’s Seminar topic and its relation to society of today, Stanciu said the pandemic greatly influenced their conversations. During the midst of the pandemic, isolation was a feeling shared between all demographics of people. Those who identify with a background of faith or spirituality felt this divide within themselves, but also from a lack of engagement with other faith communities.

“We saw how the human desire for connection is related to one’s spiritual individuality and decided it would be a relatable idea to build the first in-person Seminar around, as we [hopefully] continue to round the corner from the Coronavirus” said Marguerite Stanciu.

Isolation and activism don’t typically go hand and hand, but what was once “typical” in a pre-pandemic world is now of slim significance. In 2022 activism can take on many forms, incorporating it into interfaith, a key theme of the event, Dr. Brent Hege, director of the 2022-2023 Seminar, as well as the 2015-2016 and 2018-2019 Seminars, defines interfaith activism as “the coming together of people who orient around religion differently to advocate for change.” Advocating for change doesn’t need take form in groundbreaking fashions, it “can happen in any number of ways, big and small, from an interfaith dialogue about the resources in the various religions traditions and no religious affiliation working side by side at a food pantry to a group of diverse religious and secular people protesting an unjust law or institution or act of injustice and oppression.” At its core, it should be “[rooted in] finding a common ground with people who orient around religion differently and realizing that, while our specific religious, theological, philosophical, or ethical motivations are beautifully diverse, [and] find[ing] common ground in advocacy and activism” said Dr. Hege.

In the first section of the four-part series, the lecture revolved around Youth Engagement in Interfaith Activism. When questioned about the choice of making the kickoff session focused on a younger generation, Dr. Hege answered that sparking youth engagement in any type of activism is important, but specifically in interfaith work, young people are the frontline defense for the “existential crisis [that is] the future of humanity.”

Just as new generations are born and others pass, the post COVID-19 era is buzzing with focus on youth empowerment. “Older generations did their part, but they have fallen short in so many ways. Younger people have the benefit of seeing more clearly just how older generations have fallen short [, and] the benefit of energy and enthusiasm and a certain idealism.” The igniting factor connecting youth activism and interfaith work, said Dr. Hege, and reiterated in the keynote speaker Tahil Sharma’s lecture: “these movements can’t succeed without paying attention to religion.”

The second session of the Faith and Activism Seminar will convene in the Shelton Auditorium Tuesday, Oct 25 at 7:00 PM. Faith and Activism in Indiana is an opportunity to hear from a distinct panel of speakers about interfaith activism throughout Indiana, and will conclude the fall semester’s portion of the Seminar.

Students, each session also counts as a Butler Cultural Requirement credit! Attending the second session gives you one of eight crucial graduation requirements, and you might leave with a new outlook for approaching matters of faith and activism in our local community and eventually the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi! My name is Alana Daeger and I’m an interfaith intern with the Center for Faith and Vocation here on campus. You may have seen me at my Cookies & Questions events throughout the Fall semester. If you happened to stop by, you’ve already heard my spiel. If not, here’s a brief summary of Cookies & Questions and its purpose.

I’m very passionate about interfaith cooperation, and I want to use this event as a way to promote interfaith engagement on campus. One of my big goals this year was to concentrate on educating the wider campus about the holidays and traditions of some of the minority religions that are represented on campus. Each of my Cookies & Questions events had a theme (Rosh Hashanah, Interfaith Engagement, Samhain, and Diwali) and questions that related to the theme. The questions were presented on poster boards and answered by using different colored stickers that corresponded with a religious or secular identity. Anyone who answered all the questions received an Insomnia cookie.

I’ve chosen one poster from each of the four events to show an example of the types of questions that the campus answered. These questions were answered by anyone who stopped by my table. They began by looking at a key and choosing the sticker that matched their religious or secular identity. If they did not see their identity, they were encouraged to choose a new sticker color and add it to the key. Once the participants had their stickers, they made their way through the questions, placing one sticker on each poster and finished by grabbing a cookie. The answers are anonymous, which I hope encouraged honesty and made people feel safe from any judgment.

Read more about Alana’s Fall 2021 Cookies & Questions Event here.

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!

 

 

 

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