Diya Abdo, professor, author, poet, and curator of refugee stories, to offer keynote at Ripple Conference

Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life hosts the student-led Ripple Conference from February 9-11, 2024

Diya Abdo, the Lincoln Financial Professor of English in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Guilford College, will visit Elon on Feb. 9 to deliver the keynote address for the annual student-led Ripple Conference, now in its ninth year. The address will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the McBride Gathering Space in the Numen Lumen Pavilion

Dr. Diya Abdo, Keynote Speaker at the Ripple Conference. Photo taken April 5, 2018.

In the keynote, Abdo will explore the importance of telling, collecting and sharing the stories of people on the move – refugees. Seeking safety and security, refugees embark on journeys that force them to leave homes they loved and, if they are lucky, eventually resettle in new lands. As we listen to these stories, Abdo will invite attendees to reflect on and share the places that mark their journeys, and the moments that have moved us and made us move.

A second-generation Palestinian refugee born and raised in Jordan, Abdo’s teaching, research and scholarship focus on Arab women writers, Arab and Islamic feminisms and refugee studies. Her book “AMERICAN REFUGE: True Stories of the Refugee Experience” was selected as a North Carolina Reads 2024 Book. In 2015, Abdo founded Every Campus A Refuge (ECAR), which advocates for housing refugee families on college and university campus grounds and supporting them

“The Ripple Conference provides a space for students from Elon, and from other campuses, to engage with religious, spiritual, ethical identities in new ways, and to broaden their understanding of how to put interfaith work in action,” said the Rev. Kirstin Boswell, Elon University chaplain and dean of multifaith engagement. “We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Abdo to campus to share the voices of refugees who hold diverse religious and spiritual identities, and who will challenge our community to hear and hold their stories with respect to forward our goal of a more inclusive and just society.”

The Ripple Conference takes place Feb. 9-11 at Elon and this year will focus on the theme of Interfaith Around the World.  This theme will encourage participants to think about different religious, spiritual, ethical, and cultural traditions across the world, and how we can build bridges to create meaningful relationships. The conference features innovative teaching Shabbat and Mass services, a celebration of the Lunar New Year, interactive breakout sessions led by students, faculty, staff, and community members, an art project centered around the ideas of home, a panel discussion entitled, “Dialogue across Difference,” and plenty of opportunities for connection and engagement.

“It’s an honor to be part of this year’s Ripple Conference at Elon University,” Abdo shared Abdo. “My own work for the last 10 years with Every Campus A Refuge has centered on how higher education institutions, especially their students, can address the global refugee crisis by creating and deepening hyperlocal ecosystems of inclusion and belonging. This kind of work necessitates a commitment to local and global diversity, especially the practices that make us feel and be at home. Every Campus A Refuge is based on multifaith and multicultural understandings of hospitality as these intersect with the values of higher education. The Ripple Conference is a wonderfully apt opportunity to be exploring these intersections with students.”

More about the Ripple Conference:

Registration for the Ripple Conference is now open and will run through Feb. 4.

Registration information can be found at Elon students, faculty, and staff are invited to reach out to conference advisor Hillary Zaken for codes for discounted participation.

The conference website offers opportunities to register, apply for leadership and view the schedule and other conference details as they become available. Opportunities include leading Breakout Sessions, Community Groups, Affinity Groups, or performing in the Sacred Sounds Coffee House.