Elon’s multifaith interns reflect on identity in video project

The cohort from the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life thought outside the box about how to frame their own religious, spiritual and ethical identities.

The cohort of multifaith interns from the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life spent the 2023-24 school year investing in personal reflection around meaning and purpose, spiritual paths and deepening their own connections with their own religious, spiritual and ethical identity. The result was a video project titled “What Shape is Your Identity?”

The 2023-24 cohort, Rocco Albano ‘26, Rachel Curtis ‘24, Alex James ‘25, Hasan Khan ‘26, Maddy Williams ‘25 and Morgan Williams ‘25, created the project inspired by the Lunar Collective, an organization that cultivates connection, belonging and visibility for Asian American Jews.

“When we talk about identity, words are not always enough,” said Interim Assistant Dean of Multifaith Engagement Hillary Zaken, “Sometimes, if we lean into visual representations of our dynamic, overlapping intersectional identities, we can frame our own spiritual self-reflection in different and creative ways.”

Throughout the year, the students engaged with members of the campus community through multifaith connection meetings to deepen their own understanding of different religious and spiritual identities.  This video project was a unique way to reflect about the many multifaceted natures of identity that they learned about, and a pathway to talking about personal development.

Rachel Curtis, ’24, visualizes herself as a willow tree, planted alongside a stream, to symbolize that intellectual and spiritual growth.

“I am the willow tree, and I am rooted in place,” she shared. “And I have grown, and will continue to grow, and as the seasons change and the waters pass and different things come and go, I know that I will remain in the same place that I was planted. My identity is rooted in my own faith and who I am to my family and my friends.”

For Rocco Albano ’26, a nebulous shape was the best visualization of himself, and a way to reject the labels that are often used when talking about identity.

“I don’t like thinking of myself as being one thing or another,” explained Albano. “I don’t think that anything that I am, anything that anyone is, can be summed up in one sentence. So, I drew this cloud of a lot of shapes and colors all coming together because I think that my identity is the sum of its parts.”

Maddy Williams, ’24, an art student, found a simple but evocative way to represent her identity as a shape – in her case, a parallelogram.

“When you look at it head on, it immediately looks like a square, and then you have to do a double take to see that it is something different entirely,” Williams said. “I feel like that is how people view me. When they meet me, they see one thing, but when they get to know me, they see an entirely different side of me. I am not the box, I am not in the box, I am entirely out of the box, something different entirely.”

The Multifaith Internship from the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life is a cohort-based experiential deep dive into the diverse religious, spiritual, and ethical traditions on Elon’s campus and beyond. Students who participate in this internship grow in their religious literacy, develop values-based leadership, foster the skills to engage others in respectful conversation, participate in and facilitate effective interfaith dialogue, and curate spaces for educational and authentic religious and spiritual celebrations.

For more information about the Multifaith Internship please contact the TTruitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life.