Santa Barbara Hillel hosted an interfaith dialogue barbecue this past Sunday, Nov. 17, as the kick-off event for University of California, Santa Barbara’s culture week. The event included members of all cultures and faith groups, as approximately 70 students gathered for an evening of fellowship and food. There was fascinating discussion, delicious food, human bingo, and an opportunity to ask and answer questions about another religious or cultural community.
The event was co-sponsored by St. Michael’s, St. Mark’s, Progressive Christian Student Union, Hillel, CRU, Real Life, the Office of Student Life, the UCSB Department of Religious Studies, the Associated Students Office of the President, and the Associated Students Office of the Internal Vice President as they all welcomed students from different walks of life to partake in the discussions.
Students engaged in conversations sharing their own beliefs and listening to the beliefs of others. They discussed the obstacles that they have faced and the strategies that they have used to overcome those hardships. Students shared personal stories with one another and gained a better understanding of their fellow UCSB peers.
Discussions were sparked by questions posed by Kevin Rudolph, a third-year political science and religious studies double major. In response to a question asking students to share about their personal communities and interaction with other communities, Erika Martinez, a third-year global studies major and Director of Communications in the office of the Internal Vice President, stated that “community is everyone for me.” She explained that she has an extremely diverse group of friends and has been exposed to various different communities, thus making her feel a part of multiple ones.
Amy Lingard, a third-year global studies and cultural anthropology double major and member of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, explained that the fellowship is composed of an interdenominational group of Christians who “value racial reconciliation.”
“It is really important to talk about other people’s faith,” said another member of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, sixth-year environmental studies major Nathan Dias. “It brings a sense of unity that UCSB can always use a little more of.”
Raphael Flores, a fourth-year political science major, remarked that “events like these are very important because despite the minute differences we have, we are all actually very similar. We just worship our deities differently.” Flores is a brother of the Christian fraternity on campus, Alpha Gamma Omega, and a member of St. Michael’s, and he lives in the interfaith co-op in Isla Vista.
The evening was incredibly successful and, as a member of Hillel, I think that it is an exceptionally important step in bringing together students of various faiths.