R.A.C.E.: It’s Not What You Think

Averi Amsterdam, Staff Writer

Student Association director of inclusion, David Vasquez, organized an event on April 6, called “Religious Acceptance and Cultural Exploration,” or R.A.C.E. This paneled discussion took place in the Red Dragon Theatre.

The panel included Vasquez with Dr. Kristen Blinne from the Communications and Media Department and Dr. Zanna McKay from the Education Department. R.A.C.E. was created with the intention of making an open, judgment-free environment for students to discuss spirituality and culture and what it means to them.

To break the ice, the panel posed the question, “What does spirituality mean to you and your own culture?” For Blinne, spirituality can be defined as a path of connecting us among our differences, while McKay defined the term as a purpose and meaning of how people make sense of their lives.

As the discussion continued and students were bouncing their responses off one another, the question of connection between spirituality and religion was brought up. These are two words with loaded definitions; how do they compare?

Students’ responses varied greatly, depending on each person’s values and beliefs.

This brought the discussion to how one finds peace, especially when surrounded by the anxieties of everyday life. As students with constant assignments, deadlines, and extra-curricular involvements, it can be difficult to find peace amongst all the stress. Peace is often a broad accomplishment; instead, the panel suggested focusing on something small such as what brings happiness.

Another struggle students face is the constant worry about the future and what comes next. When trying to find peace in busy days, it is important to focus on the now and not what comes next. People often forget to focus on their individual needs and neglect to build time in their day to de-stress and reflect. McKay emphasized the importance of building “you time” into your daily schedule, and creating the space to make music in your everyday life.

Before the discussion came to an end, the panel left the participants with some final thoughts. First, always keep in mind that what you say and do matters and it does affect those surrounding you. Second, we close communication when we impede on our ability to grow together. Lastly, try to find spirituality within yourself and come up with your own definition of what it means to you.

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