“University student found new connections at interfaith event” – in the News!

Nothing is more heartwarming than to see a Golden Rule Moment happen before your eyes! Imagine growing up believing the exact opposite of the facts, then coming face to face with what is actually true!

Here’s how it came about for a local university student, Mackenzie Rodriguez. I received a note from her ASU teacher Kelly Ramella, saying, “I wanted to send you a quick email to share my appreciation for the work of the Arizona Interfaith Movement. Many of our students attended Experience Interfaith and the learning was powerful. Enjoy a blog post from one of the students.”

Rodriguez writes: “For my cultural plunge activity, I immersed myself into what I thought was one culture, the people who follow the Sikh religion. But, to my pleasant surprise after attending the Arizona Interfaith Movement’s Experience Interfaith, I was immersed into so many more cultures rather than just one, and it was more enjoyable and more educational than I ever would have thought.

“There were a variety of people with different backgrounds, nationalities and religions sitting at different tables. I then proceeded to the area of the event where members of the Sikh religion were dressing people in turbans, so of course, I got one and wore it throughout the entire event.

“After getting my head wrapped, I joined a table with 10 strangers … which represented a barrier removal. We were provided a series of reflective questions by the event leaders to share our answers and thoughts.

“The first question we addressed was, ‘What faith are you if you have one?’ There were three different faiths among the people at my table.

“The following questions were about humanity and acceptance. We talked about things that are preventing us from accepting others, we talked about what commonalities we all have, we also talked about the reasons we are all able to sit there at that table together in peace.

“The one question we addressed that really stuck with me since the event was, ‘What is a commonality of everyone at this table?’ Some of the answers were family, friends, love, etc.

“Then, a 9-year-old boy spoke reminding us that we all share in our souls, hearts, bodies and minds, peace. The connection he used was him in the schoolyard at recess and said that if he asks someone to be his friend and they say no, they took peace away from him, but when someone else comes up to him and asked if he wants to be friends with them, he was able to get some peace back.

“Although this is such a simple answer to recognize how we as humans are all similar regardless of race, culture, hair color, body type, age, etc., we all hold one thing that can bring us together, help us look past prejudice, allows us to accept, allows us to learn, and allows us to be kind to one other, which is the endless capacity of peace in which we all hold.

“A few questions I still have from this event don’t necessarily need to be answered for me to still have enjoyed my experience and have learned from it but would rather enhance my understanding of everything.

“1. How can I teach others to find peace?

“2. Is there a weekly event that I can attend to continue my learning of other cultures?

“3. What is holding us back from accepting each other?” This Golden Rule Moment calls us to a pathway of peace, one that is calling to each of us. The Arizona Interfaith Movement, which worked to provide this experience, hopes that every person open to learning truly gained something valuable — a desire that is at the core of our mission.

We have a hunch that things will be different for this student from now on. Just as Golden Rule Moments do, and may the blessings grow.

For Experience Interfaith Highlights and pictures, see www.azifm.org (News tab) or facebook.com/azifm.

The Rev. Larry Fultz is executive director of the Arizona Interfaith Movement.

Golden Rule Moments –
Larry Fultz Guest columnist

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