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All Faith Gathering Encourages Open-Minded Thinking

by Melissa Garrett

At Chatham University, the inclusion of all students is a top priority. One way this is accomplished is through a student organization in which people of various spiritual beliefs can gather to discuss their views. The All Faith Gathering has gained momentum in the past year and continues to positively impact the lives of Chatham students by encouraging diversity, acceptance and tolerance.

Each Thursday afternoon, students gather in a small room below the campus chapel. Meetings begin with a drum circle, with each guest listening to the sounds around them in order to sync up and create harmony. This is often followed by a discussion question that gets students’ minds flowing with spiritual thoughts and theories, making for interesting conversations throughout the gathering. The rest of the hour usually consists of either a spiritual discussion or a guest speaker who teaches the group about their religion or special belief system.

Although the average attendance to Chatham’s All Faith Gathering may be considered small, it is a tight-knit group that has formed close bonds of trust between its members. Most choose to live in the All Faith Living Learning Community in Woodland Hall, helping us to grow even closer together. As a living learning community, first-year students residing there with an interest in faith are encouraged to attend the gatherings.

Holding a gathering for students of various beliefs would be a good addition to any university campus: All it really takes is a few committed students, creativity and a sponsor. There are no set rules for how to hold a gathering and anything goes as long as respect is kept between members. By providing students with a place to be completely open, they can feel more comfortable being themselves regardless of their spirituality...or even their lack thereof.

Melissa Garrett is a sophomore at Chatham University majoring in creative writing with minors in music and business. She works as a resident assistant and is currently in the process of self-publishing several of her books. She also serves as the president of Chatham’s LGBT organization and enjoys political activism. Melissa’s ultimate goal is to become a college professor herself.


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Planning Your Ideal Study Abroad Experience

by Anthony Guzmán

Maybe you grew up in a small town where everyone knows everyone and gossip spreads like wildfire. Or maybe you just want to experience something new. Whatever the case is, my advice to you is to see the world through studying abroad! Who am I to tell you what to do? My freshman year of college has been the best year of my life, partly because I studied abroad. For spring break, the Mays Business School sponsored 15 freshmen to travel to Paris; this trip gave me the travel bug so I started the process for my first study abroad trip.

Imagine the study abroad planning process like an upside-down pyramid: At the top you have, “I want to go somewhere!” but as you move down the pyramid, you narrow your search until you are left with the perfect trip for you. To get to that point, you need to answer these questions:

  • What kind of study abroad program (faculty lead, transfer credit, reciprocal exchange, internships, etc.) and where?
  • Can I receive academic credit for the courses?
  • What kind of courses will I take? (languages, major related, etc.)
  • For how long? (I recommend during the summer or when your degree plan allows it.)
  • What is your budget (ex. Latin America is cheaper than Europe) and is the financial aid you receive from your school applicable? (I was fortunate enough to have my study abroad experience paid for with scholarships, financial aid, donors and family; if you need additional aid, apply early.)

As you can see, study abroad encompasses many aspects but there are plenty of resources. The first place to begin your search is your school’s study abroad office: Set up an appointment, attend a seminar, review the study abroad website or just swing by and look for flyers for different programs. There is something out there for everyone whether you want to learn a language, teach English, dive deeper into your major or explore a different culture. For example, during May and June, I studied with Sol Education Abroad in Costa Rica, took classes at a local university, lived with a host family (my most cherished part) and went on excursions with a great group of students from different colleges.

Everyone’s study abroad is unique – I did it my freshman year and it helped me get ahead while I had the time of my life! – but it’s on you to make the experience a reality. Bon voyage!

Anthony Guzmán is currently a rising sophomore at Texas A&M University where he studies business management and Spanish. He hopes to use business to create positive change through non-profit organization. He devotes the majority of his time to Catholic ministry and he also enjoys dancing, being with friends and family, and traveling.


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