This summer I participated in a research project at my small liberal arts college where we sought to understand students’ experiences of religion on campus. The goal of this project was to give our institution concrete ways on how to be more inclusive of other religions outside its dominant Catholic faith. Being involved in this project has grown my global awareness especially in regard to religion, as well as taught me a lot about myself as a person.
From this program, I have learned a lot of micro lessons such as self-discipline, independence, and flexibility. However, I would say the biggest lesson that I learned about myself is how much I have come to appreciate different cultures, and how much diversity and inclusion are important to me. We live in a world with so many people from so many different backgrounds and life journeys and I believe it is important to not only recognize each of those differences but also to celebrate them and make sure that every voice is being heard.
No religion is bound by geographical location. Religion permeates every society and every country in this world. It connects people through the shared understanding of a higher power and guiding principles that direct their life. Growing up in The Bahamas, where my Christian belief was the dominant faith, I never had to go out and gain knowledge about other religions other than the basic information I learned in school. However, since coming to college, as well as diving into this project this summer, I was able to learn more about the importance of religious inclusivity. Becoming more aware of multiple religions not only gave me a greater appreciation for my own faith but also helped me to understand how others view the world through their faith and how it impacts them as a person. With this, I came to realize that religion is not something you can put into a box because even though there are various umbrellas that each faith and practice falls under, there is diversity within those headings wrapped up in different cultures and identities unique to certain parts of the world. You can be of the same faith but believe or practice a little bit differently than your brother or sister who lives in another area. This was important to learn because as a global world we are always changing and evolving and it is important to try to keep up to date with those changes as they happen so that we can understand the story of others.
Overall, even though I have been participating in this program remotely, I believe through hearing the experiences of religion from students of multiple backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultures it has given me a wider understanding of the faiths and beliefs that make up our world and how they impact how other people interact and go through life.
I am an international student from The Bahamas and even though I spent the summer in Minnesota, I have kept up with what is going on at home while experiencing life here. I feel as if being aware of what’s going on globally is important because as much as countries want to believe that we all are individuals (and we are to some extent), we are all impacted by what goes on in our world. Whether its trade and exportation, vacation destinations, or wars, what goes on in the nations around us still impacts us even if it's in very minuscule ways. I believe the biggest lesson that I have learned while trying to be globally involved through this pandemic is that as a world, no country or nation is more important than the next. COVID-19 has left no place untouched, proving to us that as inhabitants of this planet, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, or religion, we all need to support one another in spite of our differences, because we are all human.
Author: D'Havian Scott