2nd Annual Coexistence Dinner and Dialogue Attracts 80 Area Students
The 2nd Annual Coexistence Dinner and Dialogue took place on Sunday, January 26, and once again, it encouraged positive conversation focused on diversity and faith, in an effort to promote an atmosphere of acceptance, learning, and openness. The event was organized and hosted by Fisher student Husain Bawany for the second year in a row.
Bawany, a Religious Studies and Biology major, is also working as a service fellow for the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, and started the event last year to tie his own personal interest in religion and spirituality into a program that would meet the need of interfaith and intertraditional understanding. A total of 80 students from Fisher, the University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, Nazareth College, Monroe Community College, and the University at Buffalo attended the program.
According to Bawany, the event serves as a unified response to the violent crimes that have taken place in our own country.
“A few notable atrocities, such as the shooting in Norway and the shooting at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, have been motivated by religious intolerance, hate, and misunderstanding. This program is the antithesis of such actions,” said Bawany.
The program included opening remarks from Kit Miller, Director, M.K. Gandhi Institute, who has been involved with nonviolence work for 20 years and is active in the U.S. Transition Movement to create sustainable communities worldwide. Other featured speakers included: George Payne, M.K. Gandhi Institute; Dr. Rick DeJesús-Rueff, Vice President of Student Affairs and Diversity Initiatives; and Bawany.
Upon arrival, attendees participated in activities centered on three concepts that would serve as the basis for the evening’s discussions: understanding, peace, and service. To explore understanding, participants joined together to create a picture collage after reading a quote about religious understanding. To symbolize peace, participants traced their hands on paper, and they made a wreath of all the hands. The service component focused on creating goodie bags filled with candy and cards of hope that will be passed out to children from Camp Good Days and Special Times at this year’s Teddi Dance for Love.
The evening’s events also included round-table discussions about exploring religious biographies and self-identity. Participants also enjoyed a shared dinner.
“This program offered a rare occasion where individuals from all of the area colleges came together for one program, working toward one goal,” said Bawany. “This type of coming-together is seen perhaps only at sporting events, and the fact that students and staff from these diverse institutions were brought together in an organized fashion to do something positive for their communities was amazing.”
The event was made possible thanks to support from the M.K. Gandhi Institute, as well as support from Dr. Richard DeJesús-Rueff, the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Diversity Programs, and the Center for Spirituality at Nazareth College.