To paraphrase Kid President, “What are you going to do to make Wheaton more awesome?”
The Wheaton College Better Together Festival, B2G, celebrated on Thursday, April 10, proved that the Wheaton Community is only what we make it. The festival was a collaborative effort designed to bring students, faculty, staff, and local communities together to embrace our cultural, religious and other differences. The festival looked at these differences, not as problems to be solved, but as classrooms for learning about life and each other as a community.
A core group of dedicated students met on a weekly basis with Dean Vereene Parnell to come up with engaging workshop ideas that interest and include the entire campus. This group worked to spread the word about B2G’s main objectives, seeing our differences as strengths and an opportunity to learn from each other, while also gathering signatures for the Interfaith Youth Core Pledge to respect religious differences and to support religious tolerance. “I was part of the Chapel Basement team that helped coordinate B2G, and so I participated in tabling, getting people to sign IFYC pledge and attended various events, including the William Cross lecture” commented Muneeba Syed ‘17.
One of the most entertaining workshops of the day was the faculty and staff step workshop facilitated by SOLE. Students were urged to encourage their favorite faculty and staff members to participate in learning a simple and traditional step routine. “I did not expect to see so many enthusiastic faculty there,” responded SOLE’s president, Tyler Hicks ‘16. “It helped me to build name to name connections with some faculty. Now Dean Lee knows me by my first name, and every time she sees me, she begins to do the step.”
The Better Together Festival also promoted community across the campus through several service projects. Some of them being a clean-up day at Library Park and an on-going collection of toys, games, and books for Yale-New Haven Hospital. “The drive I am doing focuses on how Wheaton, as a community, can help pediatric patients at Yale-New Haven Hospital have a better experience” explains Angela Mirabella ‘16. “Together, the Wheaton students, faculty, and staff can come together and make a difference.”
“By bringing our campus together and over the bridges of differences and otherness, we help create a more cohesive society that is more ready to tackle the deeper questions of identity and diversity,” Syed added. “B2G serves to remind us that we all share common values and goals, but that to be successful in attaining them we must first remember that we are one”
Diversity is a gift at Wheaton and with that gift comes courage, respect, and grace, making us all Better Together.