For the second year in a row, Jacqueline Bussie, religion professor and director of Concordia’s Forum on Faith and Life, has been invited to speak in Washington, D.C., and she has once again given her students the privilege to take her place.
Sept. 22, Bussie and Concordia’s three Interfaith Scholars — sophomore Robyn Adams, junior Chase Nelson and senior Anastasia Young Chase — will be flying to Washington, D.C. for the National Gathering of the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge
The President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge is an initiative in which colleges commit to provide opportunities for interfaith-based service projects on and around their campuses.
The Challenge’s national gathering, which is held annually by the U.S. Department of Education, commemorates interfaith work being done on college campuses around the country. This year, nine of the roughly 400 colleges participating were invited to present, including Concordia.
While there, Adams will give a presentation, written in tandem with Nelson and Young, on how interfaith has been integrated into the curriculum here at Concordia. The material covered will include the Forum on Faith and Life, the Interfaith Scholars program, the president’s interfaith advisory council and Bussie’s fledgling Faith in Dialogue class, which brings faith cooperation into the classroom.
Concordia has participated each year since the Challenge began three years ago. Bussie chose to give her students the opportunity to speak because, in her eyes, it is their work to take credit for.
“(Additionally,) we found that last year’s audience so much more appreciated having (students speaking),” Bussie said.
Bussie emphasized that the interfaith movement is meant to be a force of “reconciliation and hope.” Adams expressed this attitude as well.
“I believe that to truly understand people, you have to understand religion, because religion is something people hold very close to their hearts,” Adams said.
A large part of Concordia’s innovative attitude toward interfaith is reflected in the interfaith scholarship program, which Bussie devised to reward and further encourage students who were already engaged in such service work in the Concordia and Fargo-Moorhead communities.
“(I asked myself) ‘what if we designed a scholarship for students who are already doing this work?’” Bussie said.
The application process for becoming an interfaith scholar is similar to that of most other scholarships, including an essay; however, applicants are also required to be involved in interfaith work on campus.
The work required of interfaith scholars, once chosen, includes organizing the various service activities undertaken by Better Together–which includes the Habitat for Humanity playhouse building project this past weekend–organizing community outreach, working closely with the Forum on Faith and Life and other odd jobs, like personally picking Eboo Patel up from the airport last year for his on-campus speaking engagement first semester.
Though she will go as a representative of Concordia, Adams did not appear to be particularly nervous about her role on the trip.
“I’m kind of psyched just to talk to people,” she said.
Austin Gerth is a member of Concordia’s class of 2016. He edits the Opinion section. He has worked variously as a pizza cook, night-time dishwasher, caterer and water park attendant. He is a writing major, having determined through his experiences in the working world that he is ill-suited to manual labor. He enjoys ginger ale and no longer owns a poodle. He also writes for The COBBlog, and contributes freelance writing to MPR.