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Currents: student, president, seeker

Ariana Coleman '10, a History, Society and Culture major and Women's Studies minor, is active in many organizations, and holds leadership positions in several of them. She is the chair of cultural and educational trips chair for the Campus Activities Board and a student representative on the Cultural Events Committee. Coleman is also secretary of the History, Society and Culture Club and serves as a mentor to Kearsarge Elementary School students.

For this series on student club leaders, Coleman discusses her role as president of the new Faith Club. Coleman founded the club, which was officially recognized by the Student Government Association as a student campus organization on Oct. 17, 2007.

What is the mission of the Faith Club?

The club's purpose is to have an interfaith dialogue exploring common denominators in diverse beliefs and promoting understanding of different faiths.

What kinds of activities and events does the club do?

The Faith Club meets every other Wednesday in the Wesson Honors Suite 11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. We often have guest speakers, however, and those events are open to the local community. Topics that past speakers have addressed include Our Relationship with the Earth: The Theology of Creation Care - Jewish, Christian and Native American perspectives on environmental responsibility; The Quaker View of War; the story of a Bosnian War Survivor; Women: Their Roles and Challenges Within Islam; Faith & Politics; discussing Barack Obama's groundbreaking 2006 speech on faith and politics; and our most recent talk was on war and peace in the Holy Lands.

Why did you get involved and seek a leadership role, and how does the club complement your studies, interests?

I read The Faith Club, which was written after 9/11, and in the back there is a section telling readers how to create a club pertaining to faith in their local community.

As a History, Society and Culture major, I am fascinated by how faith plays a role in the world in which we live. This past summer, I took two courses at Harvard University: “The Middle East: Rapprochement and Coexistence” and “Perspectives on Islam: Religion, History, and Culture.” My professors were husband and wife: Dr. Nafez Yousef Nazzal and Dr. Laila Ahed Nazzal.

Dr. Nafez Nazzal said, “Palestinians must know they cannot push the Israelis into the sea, and Israelis cannot push the Palestinians into the desert.” Due to my experiences this past summer, I asked Josh Thomas if he could lead a discussion with the Colby-Sawyer community about “War and Peace in the Holy Lands,” which took place in late February.

How many members does this club have? Who is your club advisor and what role does he or she play?

We have about 10 members, and it has been just a little over a year that the club was recognized. The current advisor for the club is Marty Reardon, a counselor at Baird Health Center. She attends all our meetings and makes sure the Faith Club's events are advertised.

How does this club complement your academic studies?

The Faith Club allows me to think about history more critically and analytically. In the back of my mind, I always wonder what religion people practiced to have made them react in a certain way, why they took one road and not another. Does one's choices and actions boil down to one's faith?

What does being part of this group do for you personally?

This club lets me explore the two very different religions of my grandparents. My mother's parents are Muslim and my dad's mother is a Jehovah's Witness. I try to find where my faith lies and how similar my line of thinking is with theirs by listening to others in the club.

What goals do you have for this organization?

I would like to expand the type of events that we do by continuing to invite guest speakers to talk about different faiths and cultural experiences. The Faith Club is planning to host events such as campus-wide spiritual movie nights relating to different faiths and religions.

I'd also like to start taking students to sites that relate to expanding their perspectives on where others find their faith, places such as Shaker Village in Canterbury, N.H., or seeing the Quakers in Maine and other religious services throughout New England. Many of the future events will not only be used to unite the current members and the community, but also the student body as a whole.

What are others' reactions to the Faith Club?

People are curious about learning about religions besides their own and are often confused by how atheists can still be a part of the club. Atheists have a belief for not believing, and that is their faith.

Who should join this club, and why is it important to the college community?

The membership of this organization consists of anyone who would enjoy learning about different faiths and how they originated. Faith Club is for anyone willing to talk about religion and have discussions about what others believe in. Faith Club opens its doors to the community members when we have guest speakers sharing what faith means to them in their line of work. Please, come and see what we're all about.