Speak Your Mind, or Say Nothing at All

Weeklong Events Promote Commonalities, Self-Expression

Published: Apr 11, 2012
Kelly Fitzgerald ’15, who will be participating in the This I Believe event, considers herself eccentric. In the fall she’ll become the president of the Better Together student group, which hosts the ongoing whiteboard campaign, asking students to fill in the blank of the sentence, "I am …."
Kelly Fitzgerald ’15, who will be participating in the This I Believe event, considers herself eccentric. In the fall she’ll become the president of the Better Together student group, which hosts the ongoing whiteboard campaign, asking students to fill in the blank of the sentence, "I am …."

Kelly Fitzgerald ’15 has been contemplating her beliefs.

    Everything happens for a reason.
    If all else fails, just breathe.
    Don't go to sleep angry.
    Talk to strangers.

Not so strange for a college student, but as for documenting them on a roll of toilet paper? Well, that’s indicative of Fitzgerald’s eccentricity.

Fitzgerald, an international and cultural studies major with a leadership minor, is embracing what makes her unique and will be sharing it – unrolling the paper to reveal her beliefs – during the This I Believe Showcase on April 16. The event promotes self-expression, character building and understanding of others’ beliefs.

“I wanted to participate because who doesn't want a chance to get on a soapbox and share what they believe?” she said. “I have learned lots of things from being in college, traveling, talking to people and life in general, and it is nice to have a forum to share some of these lessons.”

The event is part of the Interfaith Harmony Week, hosted by the Better Together Interfaith Group and sponsored by the Sykes Chapel and Center for Faith, Values and Spirituality, Live-Well UT and UT GLTSBA.

“Our goal is to raise awareness about the interfaith movement by using this week to educate students about other religions and beliefs,” said Courtney Tipton ’12, president of Better Together. “We are all human kind and while we have different beliefs, we share many of the same values and ethics.”

The weeklong events include a talk about Mormonism and politics from Assistant Professor Ryan Cragun, the practice of a type of yoga of awareness connecting body, mind and spirit called Kundalini yoga lead by instructor Margaret Trezza, and the Gay Lesbian Transgender Straight Bisexual Alliance (GLTSBA) Day of Silence when students are asked to take a vow of silence for the day or some period of the day in support and solidarity against the silencing and oppression of the GLTSBA community.

“Think of the voices you’re not hearing,” said Brandon D’Arezzo ’14, a sociology major. “It is only through breaking the silence that we can take the steps to equality and understanding of one another.”

The events run April 16-20 and include the following:

Monday, April 16
  • This I Believe Open Mic Night, 6 p.m., Reeves Theater
Tuesday, April 17
  • Help Stop Hunger, 11 a.m., Vaughn Center 9th Floor
    Taste-testing luncheon to raise money for hunger awareness. The cost is $5.
  • Finding Peace through Prayer, 4 p.m., Sykes Chapel and Center for Faith and Values Meditation Room
    Better Together leads a guided interfaith prayer.
  • Livia Kohn Energy Healing, 7 p.m., Sykes Chapel and Center for Faith and Values Main Hall
    Lecture on Daoism and its key features.
Wednesday, April 18
  • Kundalini Yoga for Happiness, 10 a.m., Sykes Chapel and Center for Faith and Values
    Balance the mind and focus on happiness with this guided meditation.
  • Q-and-A on Mormonism and Politics with Assistant Professor Ryan Cragun, 4 p.m., Sykes Chapel and Center for Faith and Values
  • Divided We Fall, 7 p.m., Rathskellar
    Join Better Together in a discussion after the showing of a film about Muslims and the aftermath of 9/11. Refreshments provided.

Thursday, April 19
 

  • Speed-Faithing, 6 p.m., Sykes Chapel and Center for Faith and Values
    Join Better Together and their community partners in small roundtable conversations about interfaith cooperation and awareness at UT. Refreshments provided.
  • GLTSBA’s talk on Sexuality and Spirituality, 7:30 p.m., Sykes Chapel and Center for Faith and Values
    Take part in GLTSBA’s Q-and-A on sexuality and spirituality in today’s world.
Friday, April 20
  • GLTSBA’s Break the Silence, 12 p.m., Vaughn Courtyard
    Includes representatives from Amnesty International, Equality Florida, Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County, Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG); a walk in solidarity around campus and the opportunity to participate in the It Gets Better Project by providing video messages.

For more information about Interfaith Harmony Week events, email wellness@ut.edu or call (813) 257-1877.

 

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