by Abby A. ’22 and Arin J. ’22
Early in the 2019-2020 school year when Lakeside introduced the new Interfaith & Spirituality (IS) affinity group, we (Abby A. ‘22 and Arin J. ‘22) knew that we wanted to get involved to share our unique experiences from our own religious backgrounds and to increase literacy of religion in the Lakeside community. Lakeside is a secular place, and sometimes its relative blindness to religion in the name of intellectualism ignores the diverse identities of its students.
When we step foot onto Lakeside’s beautiful red brick campus, it can feel as if we must distance ourselves from the religious identities that are so integral to our home lives. In response, we as the IS affinity group wanted to ask: why? Why must intellectualism and faith be mutually exclusive? Why can’t we bring our diverse perspectives and experiences to the Lakeside community? It is in this spirit of questioning and discovery that IS developed our purpose and goals as an affinity group:
We are a space for students from all sorts of faiths and spiritualities to discuss and share similarities and differences, to deepen their understanding of world religions, and to cultivate peace, tolerance, and compassion in the Lakeside community.
Before the transition to remote learning last March, the IS affinity group facilitated conversations about religion, educated the Lakeside community on monthly religious holidays in assembly, and brainstormed outreach methods. Since moving to a hybrid learning environment, however, regular meetings are difficult: managing classes, sports, Lakeside’s myriad of activities, as well as safety fills up students’ schedules quickly. That is why we have created the Interfaith Calendar, a monthly calendar with major holidays from various religious faiths. We post our calendar––complete with brief descriptions of each holiday––in Lakeside’s daily student bulletin, the Bull, and include it in our weekly assembly slideshow to raise awareness among our fellow students about important religious events that their friends may be participating in. Increased awareness generates empathy among students and reinforces Lakeside’s culture of compassion and understanding.
As an emerging affinity group, we are always open to new ideas, members, and methods to bolster our presence in the community. Possible next steps include continuing IS group discussions, an educational newsletter, service activities, and collaborations with Lakeside’s other affinity groups. We look forward to sharing our experiences and further exploring our own identities as we follow Interfaith & Spirituality and Lakeside’s mission to foster equity, inclusion, and learning.