Learning new things everyday! Today we went to the Ginsberg Center, watched Malcolm X at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, and went to the Library. As always, it was full of excitement. We started off with a very American breakfast at Espresso Royale. I had my first hot chocolate and bagels! They were so delicious. We then headed for Ginsberg Center, which was actually only a short walk from the Cambridge House.
The Ginsberg Center is center that engage students in the University of Michigan to learn through community services. The Ginsberg Center has many programs and the program that became our focus is the Interfaith Action (IA). When we arrived at the Center we were received very welcomingly by the coordinator of IA, Rachel Yerkey. We then had a short introduction followed by a discussion of what IA is all about. So IA, as Rachel explained, is formed in the means of bringing students from diverse cultural, religious and non-religious backgrounds together. The IA started in 2006 when the Ford Foundation provided a grant. Since there was no group or activity that accommodated interfaith dialogue, it was then decided that the money would go to IA. Now the funding is split into two parts: 40% by the University; 60% by the government. The IA is also given full support by the Association of Religious Counselors (ARC), the Vice President for Student Affairs’ Religious Trust Fund, the Ecumenical Center and International Residence (ECIR), The Program on Intergroup Relations, the Michigan Community Scholars Program (MCSP), and the Ginsberg Center’s Michigan AmeriCorps Partnership.
Many sorts of activities are done at IA. The one most often held is the interfaith dialogue in which each religious organization at campus has a representative (plus anyone else who wants to come), and they will have a discussion over many issues going on in the world. This helps them understand each other better and seeing things from different perspectives. Other programs include regular classes, volunteering at the soup kitchen, and many more!
One major thing I learned from our discussion is that the freedom of choice, religion in this context, is very wide in the USA. Any belief will be tolerated as long as it tolerates others. Others do not have the right to intimidate, even if they do not agree with the presence of that certain sect or religion.
The next thing we did was watch Spike Lee’s Malcolm X. It was a long movie and we only got to half of it. But really, half way was enough to make me understand so many things that I have never even thought of. Like how the Nation of Islam actually started in the US, how Elijah Mohamed had a very big influence on African-Americans at the time, etc.
By three in the afternoon, we were already at the Hatcher Graduate Library to see archives of protest movements in the Labadie Collection. Seeing this archive was very interesting as we had a discussion with the curator of the protest section. Many interesting questions came up, such as how does the archive work when people aren’t reading newspaper anymore? One of my favorite parts was seeing the Indonesian archive of protests. We saw books and posters so delicate and precious, yet never been seen by ourselves in Indonesia. Such as the writings of Multatuli, which was I knew from elementary school books. It was really a great experience.
So there goes the second day! Stay tuned for more stories!