Category: Crossroads Community Engagement Center

Crossroads Community Engagement Center Recognized for Sam S. May Award

[envira-gallery id="7732"]

By Sophia Xiong
CCBP Volunteer

At the October State of the University address, Dr. Stuart R. Bell, president of The University of Alabama, presented the Crossroads Community Engagement Center with the Sam S. May Commitment to Service Award for its contributions to campus diversification.

The nomination praised Crossroads for its “ability to make everyone who walks through their doors feel valued and respected.”

The annual award recognizes a department, office, team or center that provides exceptional service to students and community members through commitment, innovation, creativity and continuous improvement in human relations. The award is named for Sam S. May, who served as a custodian in the chemistry department and learned the subject matter form instructors during his lunch hour. With the knowledge he acquired, he would go on to tutor students and help with research projects. May was presented an award for his service to students and faculty, and he is listed in The University of Alabama’s Pictorial History.

Crossroads provides resources and education on diversity and inclusion through intercultural engagement programs and training. The Center has been supporting students, faculty, staff and partners around since 2012. They have generated programs to promote engagement, helping to cultivate a campus for everyone that is inclusive and diverse. Major programs include Practicing Inclusive Engagement, Sustained Dialogue, Better Together Interfaith Initiative, Heart Touch and Get Involved.

The May award recognizes Crossroads for its commitment, innovation and creativity. “We worked really hard to make those creative and innovative experiences on traditionally challenging concepts around diversity and inclusion,” said Lane McLelland, Crossroads director. “So it was particularly touching to be recognized for that, and this is one our biggest successes this year.”

Crossroads is also known for making space for people to come and share their experiences, from different perspectives, different social identities, the kinds of things that people don’t often have a place to talk about in respectful and civil ways.  “On every Wednesday, in Ferguson Center hall, we provide an opportunity for people to talk campus issues or national issues, and we moderate those in a way that everyone is heard and respected,” McLelland said.

“It was gratifying to have the Center recognized,” she said. “We have worked very hard to be better ourselves and to help people on campus feel better at respecting and valuing each other.”

Crossroads Holds Interfaith Community Service at Arboretum

[envira-gallery id="7721"]

By Sophia Xiong
CCBP Volunteer

The Crossroads Community Engagement Center (CCEC) hosted a meeting of about 50 people as part of the Serve Better Together program at the Arboretum on November 11, 2017 to discuss community service projects.

“This is a really good opportunity for students to unite despite any differences and make a positive input in the community,” said Marcelle Peters, a senior student in journalism, vice president of Hispanic Latino Association. “I’m happy I was able to participate and meet all these great people and serve the community together.”

Serve Better Together is part of the series of Crossroads interfaith events, which are designed to unite students from different faiths and cultural backgrounds to understand each other better. Serve Better Together does this through community service and engagement projects. people from different backgrounds working as a team, students not only make new friends, but also learn different cultural and religious values from individuals.  One student with no religious affiliation said, “I always want to keep an open mind. This activity helps me to know different religions without any presumptions.”

On November 11, students served at the arboretum in the morning and came back to campus for discussion during lunch. During the lunch sections, students were seated in interfaith groups. The topic was “How do you think your faith and religious belief influence your serving in the community?” Students got a chance to share with each other in an open and friendly environment.

Serve Better Together not only provides students to make friends, but it also prepares them to help people in their future career, according to CCEC Director Lane McLelland. Lauren Curtner-Smith, a senior in the Capstone College of Nursing said, “When nurses know more about patients’ culture and religions, we can tailor a treatment plan specific to that patient to care for their physical, mental and spiritual needs. We can help our patients feel more comfortable and give them hope which helps patients feel better and heal more quickly.”

Interfaith Event Helps Students Understand Different Views

[envira-gallery id=”7373″]

By Yiben Liu
CCBP Graduate Assistant

UA Crossroads hosted Explore Better Together on August 29 in the Ferguson Center Great Hall. About 50 students, faculty, staff and community members attended the interfaith event.

The main goal of this third session in the series, according to Crossroads Director Lane McLelland, was to share religious and secular beliefs. “We have held it each year during UA’s Week of Welcome to emphasize that interfaith cooperation is a value supported and upheld at UA,” she said.

One activity was “speed faithing” in which different believers and non-believers listen to belief summaries, giving all attendees an opportunity to discuss and learn. This activity draws on work of the national organization Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC).

Attendees met with Ben and Kylee Hansen, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Campus Ministry, representing Mormon traditions; Bianca Levy and Paulina Bullard, Bama Hillel Student Center, representing Judaism; Rev. John Fleischauer, Wesley Foundation, United Methodist Church, representing Protestantism; Sarah Saeed, Tuscaloosa Muslim community member, representing Islam; Parnab Das, South Asian Society, representing Hinduism; Father Rick Chenault, St. Francis Church, representing Catholicism; and Stephen Cooper and Alex Hoffmann, representing the Crimson Secular Student Alliance.

Ben Hansen, sophomore accounting major from Provo, Utah, said misconceptions about his religion happen occasionally, and people coming together from different backgrounds can build greater understanding and respect for each other.

Paulina Bullard, a sophomore dance major from Olive Branch, Mississippi, said Judaism is often not well understood and that the event was a “great way to communicate because it is safe.” Noting the atmosphere of the event was respectful and professional, she said, “Only positivity can come out of this.”

Junior marketing major Corey Harris from Montgomery learned of the event only two hours beforehand and immediately decided to come. He found Hinduism the most interesting because representative Parnab Das explained how Hinduism overlaps with and differs from Buddhism.

“I think a lot more students should come,” said Harris, “because it gives you new ways of thinking of your own religion.”

Sophomore biology and religious studies major Jarred Collins from Birmingham said he believes science and religion do not contradict each other. “[Tonight] really opened my eyes,” he said. Although one can learn about religions from books and professors, nothing can be compared to “talking to people who really believe in them,” he said.