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Collaborations Shape CRSL's Spring Semester

by Kim Alston

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The spring semester was a whirlwind of spirited activity. Many collaborative ventures stretched our intellect, consciousness, and empathy, including the Engaging Identity series with the Wellness Education Office; The Refugee Resettlement Project with the Jandon Center for Community Engagement; the panel discussion on Muslims in America: Citizenship and Community with the Department of Religion; and the Interfaith Works service project with local faith ministry Cathedral in the Night. Students "stood up for others" as Smith's 2017 Commencement speaker Oprah would have put it, and the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life was there to support their intentions. CRSL's Student Advisory Board served as the impetus for the multiple Black Lives Matter banners on campus and students united with Organizing for Undocumented Student Rights to support Day Without Immigrants.

Moreover, CRSL students organized in thoughtful ways—for peace, for the rights of others, and for religious and spiritual well-being. With the help of CRSL staff, the Catholic Club and Interfaith Alliance took steps to charter their organizations. The Smith College Jewish Community offered Musical Shabbat, First Night Seder, and a solidarity stance around issues of justice. Smith's Muslim students met for Jummah prayer and lunch on Fridays at the Helen Hills Hills Chapel to build community. The newly established spiritual group, Sisters of the Yam, and the My Islam: An Exploration of Identity program helped Smithies speak their truth as a way of healing. Contemplative programming thrived this term as well. CRSL collaborated with Smith partners to welcome to campus Kaira Jewel Lingo, an internationally celebrated mindfulness teacher; and renowned author, Smith faculty and Zen priest Ruth Ozeki led weekly meditation classes in the sanctuary. It was a vibrant, transformative, and purposeful semester.

Kim Alston is Program Coordinator for the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life.