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Students gain understanding of religious and non-faith traditions through Instagram ‘takeovers’

May 29, 2020

The department of Religious and Spiritual Life (RSL) at University of the Pacific is using a popular social media platform to increase understanding and appreciation of religious traditions, beliefs and worldviews.

A weekly (Fridays) exercise called “Meet a …” on the RSL Instagram page enables students to talk about their faiths or non-beliefs—and learn from others.

“It’s been delightful to follow along each Friday and see the questions that have been asked and how our students interact,” said Rev. Laura Steed, director of Religious and Spiritual Life and multifaith chaplain. “Each story is truly an opportunity to gain more understanding.”

Khushboo Patel
Khushboo Patel

Khushboo Patel, who hosted the “Meet a Hindu” session said, “I came across some really good questions and it showed me how people are genuinely curious about other religions.”

Steed notes RSL follows the Interfaith Youth Core “Triangle Model” with emphasis placed on increasing knowledge, relationships and attitudes. The three components mesh well with the weekly efforts to educate others about various religions.

“The idea is the more knowledge you have about a particular faith, group or tradition the more likely you will create relationships across your differences,” she said.

Several students (on video here) shared information about their faiths while serving as Friday hosts, or are scheduled to do so:

  • Meet a Muslim – Shumesa Mohsin
  • Meet a Sikh – Nina Kaur
  • Meet a Jew – Kaitlyn Huntley
  • Meet a Hindu – Khushboo Patel
  • Meet an Orthodox Christian – Jace Nath
  • Meet a Mormon (scheduled for June 5) – Emilie Jenkins
  • …and more to come over the summer

The RSL Instagram page has a considerable amount of other information including prayers for religions and examples of how to make gratitude a habit. The content follows RSL’s stated purpose on its Instagram page: “There are spaces and places for you to explore and strengthen your religious or non-faith beliefs, and opportunities to be in dialogue with others.”

Kaitlyn Huntley from the Hillel Jewish Student Group hosted the “Meet a Jew” session. Afterward she said, “I didn’t realize how vast my own culture was and how much people actually wanted to know. It was such a fun experience to share and also revisit some elements of my own spirituality.”

There will be more opportunities for students to continue to share about their religious and non-faith traditions. If any student is interested in hosting a “Meet a…” takeover, they are welcome to email ReligiousLife@pacific.edu for more information or to sign up.

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