By Mariah Bennett | Staff Writer
Neighbor Nights returned in person Tuesday night outside of the Bobo Spiritual Life Center. The event, which was open to all students, faculty and staff, was hosted by Better Together BU — an interfaith organization and “collaborative partnership” by the Department of Multicultural Affairs and the Office of Spiritual Life. The event was centered around getting to know your neighbor; assistant director for Spirituality and Public Life Dr. Joshua Ritter said it had a Mister Rogers theme.
“Neighbor Nights are designed to help us answer this: How can we love our neighbor if we don’t know how to get to know our neighbor?” Ritter said.
The event featured activities related to learning about one’s neighbor, including conversation starter cards with questions like “Where do you call home?” and more in-depth inquiries like “Why is it important to see ourselves as both givers and receivers? How does this make us neighbors?”
Leadership member of Better Together BU and Phoenix senior Nate Rowan said the questions were significant in students forming connections.
“We want to get people thinking about how they can get to know people who might not look like them or be from the same areas as them,” Rowan said.
Besides conversation, the event also featured 50 dinners from Fuego Tortilla Grill, including vegetarian options, fruit, vegetable plates and cookies. All were free for those attending. Rowan estimated there were 40 to 45 attendees total.
Coordinator for outreach and inclusion Sharyl Loeung — a major planner of Neighbor Nights — said the purpose of the event was to create a space that feels like home.
Along with cuisine and conversation, the event included multiple speakers who spoke about events ranging from Afghanistan and New Orleans to Rosh Hashanah — also known as the Jewish New Year.
“Any time we can acknowledge all those things to be true at the same time, we are learning to be good neighbors — by stopping to listen and experience life together.” Loeung said.
Ritter said he was overjoyed by the community and story-sharing aspects of the event due to their cultural and spiritual diversity.
“I enjoy bringing together students of so many different backgrounds and faith traditions and cultural and ethnic traditions and sharing a meal together,” Ritter said.
The next Neighbor Night will be at 6 p.m. on Sept. 21.