Better Together BU to host faith, culture diversity week

Members of the Waco community attend a screening of "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood." Emileé Edwards | Multimedia Journalist Photo credit: Emilee Edwards

By Jordan Davidson | Reporter

This week Better Together BU, an organization shared by the Multicultural Affairs Department and Spirituality and Public Life at Baylor University, is set to host a week of interfaith and cultural awareness activities.

The national week, created by the Interfaith Youth Core, is used by Better Together BU to take the main mission of having conversations and applying them to Baylor’s campus.

Sharyl Loeung, adviser and assistant founder of Better Together BU, said it is important to get to know people in the Baylor community.

“The more that we know about the people around us, [the more] we are able to relate with them, show empathy, compassion, but also get things done in our society,” Loeung said.

According to the Better Together BU webpage, Better Together “is part of Interfaith Youth Core’s national network of people who are passionate about interfaith dialogue, working together to solve global issues and becoming better leaders and citizens.”

This week they are hosting a variety of events to spread awareness about diversity in faith and culture. After showing “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” on Monday, Better Together will also host gatherings on campus every day.

“We just saw a need on campus for our religiously diverse students,” said Dr. Joshua Ritter, the assistant director for spirituality and public life.

Today, Better Together BU is sponsoring “Neighbor Nights,” an activity that allows students to exchange stories and experiences over a home-cooked meal. Today’s meal will be prepared by the Baylor International Students Association.

“Story sharing is another big part of Better Together and so is hospitality,” Loeung said. “Being able to have that space where we host and also offer the platform for student orgs who don’t have access to a kitchen gives them a space to host their friends.”

Loeung said Wednesday will be Together Day, an event hosted in the Bill Daniel Student Center with food and the opportunity to sign a good neighbor pledge.

“It’s basically a pledge to get to know your neighbors and be a good neighbor,” Loeung said. “You can also meet people, and we will have couches where you can sit and have a conversation with someone you don’t know.”

The week will come to a close with the Better Together southwest regional conference on Friday and Saturday hosted at the Mayborn Museum with the mission to connect people of different backgrounds and beliefs.

“The conference theme, ‘Building Bridges: Belonging Between Beliefs,’ is kind of based on this idea that a lot of diversity work is about how we need build bridges between us,” Loeung said. “But if you watch people on bridges, they just pass by each other…it’s this idea of asking how can we use a bridge to stop and actually make connections?”

According to Ritter, the conversations cultivated by Better Together BU are supposed to help students expand their horizons and learn new things about people who experience their faith and life in a different way.

“I think most people get a little nervous about having conversations with people that are different from them,” Ritter said. “But I think what they realize if they actually have that conversation is it’s not quite as scary as they thought it was going to be.”