- The life of the mind and the life of faith are uniquely related to each other.
- Everyone is welcome – people of all faiths, spiritualities, and personal journeys.
- Every person is treated with dignity; respecting the uniqueness of individuals, communities, and cultures.
- Community building requires hospitality, courage, and compassion.
- Heart, soul, and mind connect us all.
Through the Kraft Global Fellows Program, I was given the opportunity to travel to Tunisia on a research trip for ten days. I was passionate about participating in this program because I wanted to explore issues such as racial discrimination and multi-faith interconnectivity. As someone who is concentrating in Middle Eastern Studies and is of Egyptian ethnicity, I was also interested in exploring how Tunisia differed from Egypt post-Arab Spring. I was able to learn about all these facets from the perspectives of different Tunisians.
I listened to the opinion of our tour guide, Moiz, who shared that democracy is not as important as people being able to provide for their families. However, other Tunisians disagree and see democracy as a platform for growth in their nation. These discussions allowed me to understand the complex narratives that exist about the revolution. When we met with Youssef Cherif, a political analyst and the head of the Columbia Global Center in Tunis, he shared his views on the role of international actors in Tunisia and the future of the nation. Youssef explained that following the uprising, Tunisians did not have enough ideas to lead because they were never allowed to do so. Thus, there was a vacuum that foreign influence filled. International actors are not always bad; for example, they can have a positive influence by helping the nation maintain free elections.
We were also able to meet with MP Jamila Ksiksi, the first black member of parliament, who works to fight racism and colorism. I was inspired to see and speak to a Muslim woman who helped enact a law that criminalizes racial discrimination against the country’s black minority. Furthermore, she is a voice for many people, including women, black Tunisians, and sub-Saharan Africans in the country.
To be able to take this journey with the University Chaplain, Chaplain Davis, was a rewarding experience. Through our conversations, I was able to see how faith and learning are interconnected. Not only was my experience purely academic in nature, it was also personal. I felt a semblance of home in Tunisia where I was considered to be of the people, rather than an “other.” This was evident when I was able to have conversations in Arabic, my native language, with a woman in the supermarket in Tunis and Chief Rabbi Haim Bittan in Djerba. The knowledge that I gained during the Kraft Global Fellows Program is not something I could have learned from merely reading a textbook. I look forward to bringing back new insights to discuss with my peers!
The submission deadline for Kraft Global Fellow|Chile has been extended until February 1st. 2019
“Thirty years ago there were 50,000 Christians in south-eastern Turkey speaking a dialect of Aramaic – the language of Christ. Now there are 2,500. Talking to one of them, the BBC’s Jeremy Bristow learned that instead of Three Kings, there might actually have been 12.”
For information about the Spring 2019 Kraft Global Fellows Program, please visit the attached page: Kraft Global Fellows Program – Spring 2019; Chile.
Congratulations to the Winter 2019 Kraft Global Fellows!
We welcome Simran Jeet Singh to our Religious Life Adviser Team!
The Office of the University Chaplain promotes the common spiritual life of the University, while also designing and directing programs that minister to the needs of students’ individual faiths. The office is supported in this mission by the work of our Religious Life Advisers (RLA’s), a group of clergy and spiritual advisers from the various faith groups represented on campus. Supported by sending organizations outside of the university, RLA’s help to lead religious services, organize programming, and provide spiritual counseling on campus.
To date, Columbia’s RLA team has lacked a representative from the Sikh tradition. The addition of Simran Jeet Singh, who’s sending organization is The Sikh Coalition, remedies this lack while also bringing to our campus community a religious leader of both local and international renown. Conversations with Dr. Singh began early during the fall semester, and the recently completed application process included student feedback in the form of supporting signatures.
We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Singh to this role within our Office. His presence will not only provide further support for one of our most active religious communities on campus, but will also enrich the broader university family.
“Educator and activist Simran Jeet Singh, GSAS ’08, ’12, and ’16, has been appointed as Columbia’s first-ever Sikh Religious Life Adviser.
Singh will join Columbia’s 15 other Religious Life Advisers, clergy and spiritual advisers that oversee Columbia’s various faith groups with support from “sending organizations” outside of the University. Singh—whose sending organization is the Sikh Coalition, a New York-based civil rights organization—will provide Sikh students with direct spiritual counseling and organized programming.”
“For years my life followed a predictable pattern: I would sneak out of the house, play football with the neighborhood kids until dark and promptly contract malaria. Football was so intoxicating that I was willing to risk anything — the threat of punishment, injuries, even sickness — to play it. Soon enough, my mother would find out where I’d been and rush me to the Sijuwade Specialist Hospital in Akure. There, the doctor would conclude that I had kept the malaria hidden for some time and now needed to be admitted — a word my parents dreaded. By nightfall, I’d find myself in a hospital bed, my arm strapped to an intravenous drip.”