Converge: an Intercultural Walk Takes Community Members to Key Multifaith and Multicultural Sites on Campus

September 30, 2013

On Monday, September 30, the Wellesley community will engage in discussions about diversity on campus, promoting a celebration of and improved understanding of multicultural and multifaith spaces on Wellesley’s campus—by converging on key spaces in a group stroll.

Converge: an Intercultural Walk, begins at 4:30 p.m. at the Multifaith Center in Houghton Chapel; then progresses to Billings, the newly renovated Intercultural Education Center, Billings 101, LGBTQ resource room, Hillel Lounge, chaplaincy and deans’ offices; Harambee House; Continuing Education/Davis Scholar House; and concludes with snacks in Slater International Center.

In each space, a small number of student leaders with ties to those spaces will greet visitors and share their experiences.

“The Intercultural Walk serves as an educational opportunity for students to engage with and learn from their peers about the need for various cultural centers on our campus,” said Karen Shih, assistant dean of intercultural education and advisor to students of Asian descent. “Students will share personal stories about how these centers provide not only physical, but also psychological safe spaces that affirm their social identities. The centers facilitate a sense of belonging for students as well as promote cultural and intercultural programming for the Wellesley community.”

The event is organized primarily by Multicultural Affairs Coordinator Safaya Fawzi ’14, a political science major. The inspiration for this walk comes from a similar event hosted by her mother in the suburbs of Chicago. “We have a couple of synagogues, many churches of different denominations, and a mosque in my hometown,” said Fawzi, “and so she capitalized on that religious diversity to coordinate having all the different houses of worship stay open for tours and people to come visit and learn more about their neighbors for a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon.” The first walk occurred on Sunday, September 9, 2001. “It was so important for our community that everyone had come together just two days before 9/11 to celebrate our religious diversity,” she said.

When she came to Wellesley, Fawzi wanted to use her mother’s idea to engage Wellesley in a walking, celebratory discussion of its own culturally and spiritually diverse community. “I thought one of the best ways to increase everyone's awareness about the importance of their own spaces as well as the importance of the multicultural, multifaith, and other safe spaces on campus was to actually be physically present in them,” she said. “This event increases connection and ‘convergence’ of everyone's values and needs—in addition to our physical ‘converging’ on the spaces themselves during the event.”

Converge is co-sponsored by the Community Action Network (CAN) committee, Office of Intercultural Education and Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, as well as by Slater International Center, members of the Multifaith Council, and a number of campus cultural organizations, including Ethos, WASA, WCD, and the Davis Scholar Class Council.