The Fall Fest: Fun and Faith
By: Mary Grace Reich
November 9, 2011
On Sunday, October 30, Georgetown’s D.C. Reads and D.C. Schools, hosted their annual Fall Fest. The two student initiatives, as part of the Georgetown Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching, and Service, coordinate Georgetown undergraduate volunteers to tutor elementary students and immigrant communities respectively. The annual Fall Fest welcomes the children involved in the programs to campus for a seasonal celebration. The event includes a variety of festivities such as games, music, performances, face-painting, and trick-or-treating. D.C. Reads and D.C. Schools volunteers coordinate the event and invite other student groups to contribute performances or activity tables.
I attended the Fall Fest on behalf of the Interfaith Council. The Interfaith Council volunteered to host a mask-making table. With just some paper plates, construction paper, and markers we were able to incite many laughs, smiles, and bonding opportunities for tutors and their students, as well as an enjoyable afternoon for us all. The Fall Fest was a valuable experience as a showcase of the variety of Georgetown student service initiatives and cooperation between them, and the chance for some interfaith dialogue.
It was impressive to see the number of Hoyas involved with D.C. Schools and D.C. Reads and the dynamic between the Georgetown student tutors and their students. The courtyard was encircled with a variety of tables from organizations ranging from Residence Life to the Latin American Students Association to our own Interfaith Council table collaborating to create a fun-filled afternoon for the kids. The atmosphere of the event was enthusiastic and exciting--it was clear that the kids were having a great time and the college students perhaps even more so.
During a lull in mask-making, two other Interfaith Council members and myself ended up having an unexpected but engaging and enlightening conversation about our own faiths. We were discussing what it means to combine interfaith work and service as we have been working to do as part of the White House Interfaith Challenge and one thing led to the next. This progression from discussion of the events connected to the interfaith work going on to a broader interfaith conversation and reflection on its purpose has become a trend. Even when I have been unable to attend an event or the person with which I am conversing did not, deeper interfaith engagements has arisen from the awareness that the events are happening. For instance, my roommate and I have had several great conversations about interreligious dialogue--a topic that we have not covered at such depth before--as an offshoot of her just asking me about my day. This awareness and willingness to broach the topic is becoming a more common conversation, and the Fall Fest was a great experience in this.
Working with the Interfaith Council at the Fall Fest brought to fruition three objectives that we have set out to achieve as part of the White House Interfaith Service Challenge: service, increased cooperation with other student group, and enhanced opportunities for interfaith discussion. At the end of the day, I had had a fun afternoon playing with the kids and also a thought-provoking conversation about a faith with which I was previously unfamiliar.