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Join SU in Turkey on ’10-Day Journey of the Heart’
Even though the 2013-2014 academic year has come to a close, the learning, growing and expanding of the minds and hearts at Syracuse University continues.
Beginning today, Hendricks Chapel and the Turkish Cultural Center of Syracuse are leading a group of 10 University staff members on an immersive, professional development experience to Turkey, a country rich in many faiths, to explore religious pluralism. The “10-Day Journey of the Heart” includes visiting multiple religious, cultural and historical sites, as well as visiting with host families. Chaplains of Evangelical, Muslim, United Methodist and Buddhist faiths will be taking the journey, as well as professional staff who serve students in their campus-life experience.
Hendricks Chapel will be documenting and sharing stories about the places and people visited, as well as the insights and awakenings of the group here. And, starting today, Hendricks Chapel is kicking off a guided experience for campus and community members to embark upon their own contemplative and spiritual journey over the next 10 days, creating a collective “10-Day Journey of the Heart” experience, around the world.
How to participate in the “10-Day Journey of the Heart”
- Each day, visit either Hendricks Chapel’s Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr page, and read the guiding thought, intention or call-to-action for you to reflect on as you go about your day.
- Then, throughout the day, take a moment to write down any thoughts or insights you may have.
- Lastly, share one of those reflections, on a daily basis, by posting in the comments section on Facebook or Tumblr, or on Twitter @HendricksSU and by using #LivingSU.
Read Day #1’s guiding thought and join the experience today
Located in the heart of Syracuse University’s campus since 1930, Hendricks Chapel is a home for all faiths, a place for all people. It has long been the work of the chapel to cultivate a diverse religious, spiritual, ethical and cultural community for the University and surrounding communities, by connecting people of all faiths and no faith through various initiatives, programs and experiences both locally and abroad.
“Over the years, Hendricks Chapel has taken many students on interfaith travel experiences, such as Spain, Turkey, Jerusalem, London, China, Latin America, Germany and Poland. We do this to expand our students’ understanding of religious pluralism through embodied, experiential learning,” says Tiffany Steinwert, dean of Hendricks Chapel. “The learning that happens through travel is not something that can be replicated on campus; travel allows people to break down barriers and boundaries that at the University keep them from fully engaging the ‘other.’”
In 2003, UCLA began a seven-year study on spirituality in higher education, and the findings showed statistically that student engagement with spirituality significantly increases traditional outcomes for higher education, including GPA, retention, ability to get along with those who are different, wellness and reducing stress.
“We have seen the transformation these experiences create in the hearts and minds of our students, and this year, we wanted our staff and chaplains to have the same opportunity, so that their professional lives could be enriched and deepened by the encounter with many faiths,” says Steinwert. “Now more than ever our professional staff need to both understand and have a facility with engaging issues of religious pluralism on campus. They must be grounded in their own sense and experience of faith in order to fully meet students in theirs. It is not enough to abstractly know religious facts, but rather our staff must gain access to this knowledge through experience. It is knowledge of the heart that allows staff to engage more fully with our students around issues of spirituality and faith.”
Over the course of the trip, the group will travel to the cities of Istanbul, Izmir, Kayseri and Konya. Sites that will be visited on the trip include the Hagia Sophia, House of the Virgin Mary, Topkapı Palace, Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque) and more. Along the way, the group will be connecting with host families to further explore and deepen their understanding of the culture.
When asked to share one word or phrase that describes their intention for wanting to develop themselves professionally through this experience of religious pluralism, and what they hope to bring back to campus and infuse in their work with students because of it, members of the group answered:
Robin Berkowitz-Smith, associate director in the Office of Residence Life
Global awareness: Taking advantage of opportunities that allow myself to understand the differences in the world will, in turn, help me be a more informed and inclusive professional. I hope to present what I will have learned to my department, but most importantly, live it through my daily interactions with students and staff.
Peppie Calvar, assistant director of choral activities and conductor, Hendricks Chapel
Opportunity: The opportunity to spend quality time with my colleagues in an unknown yet wonderful place ignites possibilities for future collaborations. The Hendricks Chapel Choir often sings about stories informed and influenced by biblical regions, so being able to visit and experience these places can only serve to improve the ways I present the music to singers, as well as the ways we deliver it.
Kerry Foxx, associate director in the Office of Student Activities
Connection: Our students come from a variety of spiritual and faith traditions. I’m from the south and was raised Baptist. Unlike other areas of diversity, such as race or sexual orientation, I have not thought too much about my faith tradition and the assumptions/attitudes that are part of me because of my upbringing. I look forward to challenging myself with respect to faith and spirituality on this trip, so that I can more effectively work with students from traditions other than my own.
Tanweer Haq, director of Muslim Student Life, Hendricks Chapel
Perspective: To widen my perspective, so I can deepen the ways in which I promote inclusiveness, which will enable me to serve others better.
Jay Koshy, Evangelical chaplain, Hendricks Chapel
Understanding: I hope to be understanding of the culture and people in a greater way, and that it will help me to grow as a person, so I can better connect with students on campus from that part of the world.
Colleen Preuninger, United Methodist Ecumenical chaplain, Hendricks Chapel
Broaden: I see this trip as an opportunity to broaden interfaith relationships, experiences and knowledge with the purpose of growing in my ability to serve in my unique ministry setting at the chapel. It is essential to my work to be able to engage, understand and work collaboratively with students, facult, and staff from varied backgrounds, fields and faith traditions.
Bonnie Shoultz, Buddhist chaplain, Hendricks Chapel
Bonding: I look forward to bonding with others on the trip, and hope the experience will increase understanding and regard between ourselves and our hosts. I intend to bring a deeper level of mindful awareness back to the work I do on campus because I will have experienced this opportunity.
Tiffany Steinwert, dean of Hendricks Chapel
Professional development: To engage our students, our staff must develop this part of their professional lives, and taking an intensive, immersion experience to Turkey, a country known for its rich religious pluralism, is a perfect way to do that. I plan to share the experience with staff and students through stories and pictures, and perhaps new relationships.
Ginny Yerdon, administrative assistant & special events coordinator, Hendricks Chapel
Knowledge: I love learning about other cultures and sharing my experiences. I foresee being able to have deeper conversations in my interactions with students.