Multifaith at Elon is about creating spaces for connection, education and celebration.
The Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life cohort of multifaith interns has spent the semester engaging with students, faculty, staff and community members to help educate the community about diverse religious, spiritual and ethical identities, and to deepen their own understanding of different religious experiences.
The interns are responsible for creating space, building and cultivating relationships, leading programs, events, and festivals, and facilitating learning opportunities about religious and spiritual identities and experiences on campus and beyond.
This year’s cohort of multifaith interns, Rocco Albano, Rachel Curtis, Alex James, Hasan Khan, Maddy Williams, and Morgan Williams, have connected with dozens of community members through multifaith coffee conversations, met with Geshe Sangpo of the Kadampa Center for the Practice of Tibetan Buddhism, and hosted members of the local Bahai community and visited the Sikh Gurudwara of North Carolina alongside Spirit and Pride interns Caden Samuel and Lilia Anderson, as part of their work to learn about how members of different traditions engage with their faith, and with the world.
“Multifaith at Elon is all about creating spaces for connection, education, and celebration of diverse religious, spiritual, and ethical identities,” said Hillary Zaken, interim assistant dean of Multifaith Engagement who supervises the multifaith interns. “Our work is building relationships, engaging with meaning, value, and purpose, and providing avenues for community members to ask questions, deepen spiritual exploration, and challenge preconceived notions about religious communities.”
“Our visit to the Gurudwara was exactly what Multifaith is all about, learning about a new faith and applying it in our lives in order to grow,” said intern Hasan Khan. “It was an amazing experience. It reminded me so much of my own faith, Islam, with its bright colors, comfy prayer mats, and an atmosphere of peace and love, similar to the mosques that I have been going to throughout my life.”
The multifaith cohort works with the professional team at The Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life to create meaningful celebrations of diverse religious programs and festivals such the Green Tara Sand Mandala (Sept. 14-16, 2023), Diwali (Nov. 9, 2023), the Festival of Lights and Luminaries (Nov. 28, 2023), the Ripple Interfaith Conference (Feb. 9-11, 2024), Eid al-Fitr (spring 2024), and Holi. (spring 2024).
Spirit and Pride, a collaborative project with the GLC led by Rabbi Maor Greene, Associate Chaplain for Jewish Life, focuses on building community, creating support and resources, and increasing interfaith literacy at the intersection of religious and spiritual and LGBTQIA+ identity.
Interns are also expected to hold multifaith coffee conversations with students, faculty and staff at Elon to develop better intercultural and interfaith competency, and increased facility in navigating discussions across differences. That intentional relationship-building and collaboration is the essence of the multifaith internship and helps fulfill the goals of Elon’s Multifaith Strategic Plan by engaging and educating the campus community.
For multifaith intern Morgan Williams, building community and deepening relationships is central to her internship experience: “The Truitt Center is a community where you are welcomed in, and where your identity and your essential humanity is recognized and accepted. I have learned so much through this internship about how to be a respectful presence in someone else’s religious tradition.”