Sophomore Gracie Dover reflects on the Interfaith Fall Break Trip to Washington, D.C.
During Fall Break, twelve students from different grades and with varied interests went to Washington D.C. on the Interfaith Fall Break trip to explore the intersection of faith, religion, politics and service. Karen Soos, the adjunct Catholic Chaplain and Jared Smith, the Center for Civic Engagement fellow, led and planned the trip along with this year’s three scholars: Jessica Annonio, Alexis Grant, and me, Gracie Dover.
The main activities of this trip were visiting different houses of worship, exploring Washington D.C., and doing service. We visited an Orthodox Christian Church, a Hindu Temple, an Islamic Center, and attended a Yom Kippur service. In addition, we walked through the National Mall monuments, visited the Holocaust museum, the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, and ate Ethiopian food. Lastly, we prepared meals for the homeless at a local church are the D.C. Central Kitchen (the biggest homeless shelter in the U.S.) and worked at an elderly home. As senior Kaitlyn Curran explains, “DC Central Kitchen…doesn’t just try to ‘fix’ the problem of homelessness and hunger but empowers individuals” by providing culinary training and other social services for homeless people.
The best part of the trip for me was not our flurry of activities, but the deep conversations I had with my group members and the great new friendships I made. After two months of demanding schoolwork and the cloistered Davidson life, I was ready for a break. Now, I have come back feeling refreshed and inspired. I see a greater purpose in my work at Davidson, since it will help me achieve my goals for the future, such as engaging in interfaith dialogue in a philanthropic setting. I especially enjoyed our visit to a non-profit called Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty (CIFA). CIFA works with leaders of different faiths in Africa, training them to teach their congregations about malaria, HIV/AIDS, and promote education for females. Junior Hannah Jordan said the visit to CIFA “opened my eyes to the beautiful way that faith, service and politics can come together to change lives.”
Kaitlyn Curran, a religion major, said, “Honestly, I loved every part of the trip. If I had to pick just one thing, it would be the Hindu temple. I loved being able to see what I’ve been studying firsthand and everyone was so hospitable.” Interfaith action has been gaining momentum on campus with the student group, Better Together, the Interfaith Scholars, and different events Chaplain’s
Office has held. To me, interfaith is essential in today’s day in age. Curran said that her experience of “the Holocaust museum [was] particularly meaningful because it shows what can happen when interfaith relations in the socio-political realm are not explored. The horrible events of the Holocaust show that respectful interreligious dialogue and tolerance/acceptance are necessary in one’s society (especially with today’s globalized world). Sophomore Alexis Grant said, “It is important to look out for the similarities in strangers with diverse backgrounds. Instead of being paralyzed by fear, it is better to look for the beauty in differences.” Overall, it was a great trip, possibly life changing, and I would recommend to anyone who is curious about other cultures and how they can work together to promote peace.