‘Better Together Day’ opens Cal Lutheran to new views


Photo by Emely Salguero- Reporter

Challanging worldviews: Campus Minister Hazel Salazar-Davidson answers a question about how she describes her worldview alongside first-year Naomi Mbise and senior Sana Shah during the Better Together Day’s Human Library panel.

Emely Salguero, Reporter

Students and other members of the California Lutheran University community engaged with new and different religious and cultural perspectives at the Community Service Center’s Better Together Day on Monday, March 2 in the Lundring Events Center.

Attendees participated in a series of activities, such as a dialogue on personal values and a ‘Human Library’ panel, where individuals shared about their own culture and offered the opportunity to learn more about each other’s world views.

“It’s just all about coming together,” Community Service Intern Melissa Dennin said. “Everyone from all backgrounds of faith, worldviews and understandings of the world just come together to celebrate.”

Dennin helped with the event and said Better Together Day is an international event hosted by the Interfaith Youth Core, a nonprofit designed to help campuses make interfaith cooperation the norm.

The event began with an opening statement from junior Community Service Intern and Interfaith Ally Abigail Espinoza Alfaro, who helped organize the event. During her introduction, attendees ate a complimentary dinner of Panera sandwiches, chips, soda and cupcakes that featured an interfaith ally Gumby design on the frosting. Attendees were asked to partner up with someone they did not know and discuss their unique worldview, which is a person’s system of beliefs, whether that be religious, spiritual or personal.

Espinoza Alfaro has previously helped with other Cal Lutheran interfaith events, so she decided to take the opportunity to plan this year’s Better Together Day.

“I wanted to lead Better Together Day because I wholeheartedly believe in the idea of interfaith and pluralism and the fact that one day I would like our society to be a pluralistic society,” Espinoza Alfaro said. “I would like for all different faiths to be welcomed and not judged.”

Espinoza Alfaro believes that events like Better Together Day are important because of how they can open up opportunities for people to take the time to learn about different world views in their everyday life. She also mentioned the value she sees in Cal Lutheran’s religion courses.

“For me personally I hadn’t learned about religion in any educational context until I came to Cal Lutheran,” Espinoza Alfaro said. “Learning about it in an education context, where that was the whole point of the class, allowed me to grow in my understanding of what it was that all of these worldviews believed, and it just made me want to learn even more about interfaith.” 

Campus Minister Hazel Salazar-Davidson said she enjoyed playing the ‘human knot’ game, in which participants cross their arms and grab the hand of the person next to them and have to untangle themselves. 

“I just thought it was really interesting how the games, even though they’re repetitive when you’ve done them in other places, because of the people that you’re with, you always end up learning a new thing,” Salazar-Davidson said. 

Her group ended up in three smaller circles after they tried to untangle themselves, which is something she had not seen happen in the previous times she has done this particular activity.

Other activities included partnering up for a flash round of questions about each others’ values, beliefs and traditions. Participants would answer a question with their partner to try and find something in common all while being timed, and they would shift over and begin the process again once their time was over.

One of the featured activities of the night was the Human Library panel, who were asked questions about their world views and their interactions with other world views as well. The panel included Salazar-Davidson in addition to first-year Naomi Mbise and senior Sana Shah. 

Shah is president of Cal Lutheran’s Muslim Student Alliance, and said she decided to get involved with Better Together Day, as well as other interfaith events, to share her perspective as a Muslim on campus. 

“It’s really to put our Muslim community at CLU out there and educate our community about what our club does and how our Muslims are on campus,” Shah said. “I like the idea that we’re all open with one another, and we have to step out of our comfort zones to get to know one another better.”

Shah echoes this same sentiment and says there is value in learning about and building up communities with people who have different world views.

“You gain perspective on other religions, and I think that is so important, especially in the climate that we have today at Cal Lutheran, society and our political climate,” Shah said. “It’s good to get to know one another on a spiritual level.”