Informing and Understanding as Keys to Success – Ben Wetherby

The first semester as an Interfaith Fellow has taught me a lot. I’ve learned more about religions other than my own, had the opportunity to participate in several religious services that were new to me, and met and worked with a diverse group of people. 

This semester has also taught me the importance of following up on work. We as fellows achieved a lot inside of our group this semester and were able to end it nicely with the Interfaith Potluck (which was a great success). But there is much more to be done in the next semester. Our focus will be on community outreach as we interact with our peers outside of the group. Lily, one of the other fellows, and I had the opportunity to connect with someone at Grace Episcopal Church in Madison. She asked us to involve some of the fellows in an event at the church. My point is that there are people looking for our help: people that understand the importance of interfaith dialogue. 

In the second semester, we as a group will make ourselves more available to the community. This responsibility lies on the shoulders of each one of the fellows. We all took the first step in joining this group but taking the first step doesn’t make the second and third any easier, or less important. We have a duty to the community to end our time as fellows by leaving a lasting positive influence on this campus. We have begun to establish this, but there is much more to be done to ensure this outcome. 

This is not an easy process, but a community divided cannot stand. The impact of all actions must be considered. I believe we as a society need to take responsibility for our actions. Are we striving each day to unite this world? Again, one step is not enough. Even one act a day will work to bring us together as a community. These actions could be something as simple as a smile on the street to someone you don’t know, or as involved as starting a new club. It is the thought that counts. 

Our potluck at the end of the first semester laid a foundation for what success looks like. Success begins with informing others of our goals. In a mock interview I participated in I mentioned my work as an interfaith fellow and the interviewer was not aware of this group on campus; I doubt they are in the minority of the campus population in this sense. Campus outreach will continue to be a focus this semester as we share our mission. The form this will be in is currently unclear, but this is an important step on the path toward success. Individually, sharing our work with friends and family, both on and off campus is important. I’ve spoken to friends at colleges all over the Midwest about our work; there is no reason to contain it to Madison. Spreading awareness will continue to be one of my main focuses in this coming semester. 

We as a group and the community as a whole need to continue to make strides towards unification. The Center for Religion and Global Citizenry has organized us to be leaders and facilitators for change, and this is a mantle that we need to uphold throughout the second semester.