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Interfaith Sundae: Making You One With EverytHing

A Report by Allison Ristaino '14 and Alli Wessells '14

Áine Sweetnam '13, Alli Wessells '14, and Sarah Anderson '12, members of the Multifaith Council, who organized the Interfaith Sundae throught the Office of Religious & Spiritual Life.

On Thursday afternoon, students gathered in the campus center TV lounge in pursuit of ice cream sundaes which friendly Religious and Spiritual Life workers scooped out with a smile.Inviting students to choose from a variety of different ice creams as well as candy, fruit, and whipped cream (and even more toppings). Like these delicious toppings, there are a wide variety of religious denominations and the Smith Office of Religious and Spiritual Life works hard to make sure that all faiths have a place on campus while also coming together to celebrate spirituality and interfaith ventures such as this sundae party. In that spirit of cooperation, the room was decorated with symbols from many different faiths and featured different ways to connect with the interfaith world, whether through a display, playing a game or reading a simple quote.

Sarah Anderson '12, found the party to be "well attended" and as one of the main organizers of the event, she "had lots of fun helping plan it with Alli [Wessells '14] and Aine [Sweetnam '13]" particularly researching different quotes to put in the "Words of Wisdom" basket for students to read as they waited for ice cream. They came from a variety of people who belong to different faiths, including Jews, Hindus and even a few atheists.

Colorful quotes from many different faiths were handed out to all from a jaunty white basket. I received one that had a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk and peace activist, which said: "In true dialogue, both sides are willing to change." The campus' reaction to the recent hate-related incidents jumped to the forefront of my mind and I felt optimistic at the subtle reminder. After receiving a delicious bowl of ice cream, I went to go find out the scoop on the history of interfaith series that chapel worker Sweetnam had worked hard to put together.

Seeing how these different groups came together, whether during the Civil Rights movement (featuring the Interfaith Freedom Ride where four rabbis and fourteen ministers traveled to Florida to eat a meal together and protest segregation while doing it) or the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition (the only interfaith and women's political party in Ireland) was inspiring to read about. There was also an interfaith venture made by Smith College in the 50s that was on display, though I hope that I can see better ventures in our near future.

There was also a faith based game to play, which many students enjoyed because it gave them a chance to explore other faiths without feeling on the spot about not knowing a certain term or definition. The as-yet-unnamed game was invented by Wessells. Multifaith Fellow Matilda Cantwell has plans to keep the game for first year students during the multifaith orientation in September, excited about how it could help these new students from different faiths learn about each other. There are also plans to permanently install Sweetnam's series of historical interfaith events in the Chapel. As for the event itself, it was a hit with students who came whether for the ice cream or exciting interfaith collaborations.

One student I spoke to, Zane Razzaq '15, made her first ever interfaith sundae that day. "I was having a bad day," she told me, "and this really cheered me up!" The event was fun for all and lead to great conversations and new friendships as well as reinforcing some old ones, as students were invited to sit at the tables and talk to others if they weren't in a hurry to get back to schoolwork.

"I feel closer to friends I haven't seen in a while," explained chapel worker Izzy Masiunas '12 with a cheerful grin before returning to her conversation with four other girls. Later, everyone else would leave, except for these five who would continue to talk amongst themselves about the tolerance on campus, a great example of what wondrous things can occur in the spirit of interfaith celebration.