Thursday, October 23, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

‘As much as you teach others, you learn’

Sari Kosdon, Dylan Stanton, Mariam Aejaz, seated on the couch, and Jassimran Bainiwal take part in a discussion led by facilitator Máhsea Evans, right. Said Aejaz of the decision to be part of C.A. House’s Multifaith Living Community, “They equally valued every single faith, or even if you didn’t have a faith — if you were atheist or agnostic. That really stood out.” Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

By
From page A1 | November 25, 2012 |

On one level, the C.A. House’s Multifaith Living Community is like most other student housing units. There are six townhouses and a main house with a kitchen and a living room.

But, on a deeper level, it’s a unique social experiment: 38 students from a variety of faiths — including Christianity, Sikhism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Jainism — all living together in one community.

The Multifaith Living Community at 433 Russell Blvd. in Davis, is operated by the Cal Aggie Christian Association, commonly known as C.A. House.

“Our understanding of what a Christian organization should be is justice-seeking, generosity and hospitality, bridge-building,” said Kristin Stoneking, the director and campus minister of C.A. House. “We’re also engaging in assisting and supporting all students in integrity and (being) people of faith, no matter what that faith is.”

The Multifaith Living Community centers on putting into action the principles of community, faith, social justice and simplicity of lifestyle, emphasizing acceptance and tolerance of every faith, as well as sexual orientation and class.

Stoneking describes the purpose of the Multifaith Living Community as “to primarily address the issues that are causing us to not have peace and justice in the world and our community.”

“One of those issues right now is religious misunderstanding. In part, the interfaith living center is to help students understand other faiths,” Stoneking said.

Mariam Aejaz, a Muslim junior double-majoring in international relations and community and regional development, moved into the community at the beginning of this school year.

When Aejaz was considering applying to the Multifaith Living Community, she was particularly drawn to the community’s stated goal of interfaith tolerance and mutual understanding.

“They equally valued every single faith, or even if you didn’t have a faith — if you were atheist or agnostic. That really stood out,” Aejaz said. “At the Multifaith Living Community, you get really get to know people first. After you get to know them, it’s natural to ask ‘Why do you have that on your head?’ or ‘What kinds of prayers do you do every day?’ It’s a more holistic kind of interfaith.”

David Kielsemeier, a fourth-year student studying Spanish and managerial economics who identifies as culturally Jewish, was initially worried that students would stick in cliques with those of their own faith.

“The biggest challenge is just breaking down those barriers. It hasn’t been difficult,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot about other religions. I had no idea that Sikhism even existed beforehand, and I didn’t really have any Muslim friends.

“In the end, it’s just nice to realize we’re really all just people, whether of different faiths or not.”

Angad Singh, a Sikh resident and fourth-year student majoring in neurobiology, physiology and behavior, wondered if most of the students would be Christian.

“It turned out to be a variety of religions,” Singh said. “We have so many faiths. It’s awesome.”

An average week at the Multifaith Living Community begins on Monday morning with Buddhist meditation, which is offered every weekday morning. On Monday night, there is a Christian meal and service. The entire community gathers on Wednesday night to share a meal and participate in a special program, such as a Muslim Eid celebration or Jewish seder, or discussion on a topic affecting multiple religions, such as genocide.

In addition to regular retreats and service projects, each student is also part of a small multifaith group that meets once a week.

The many events and gatherings are intended to reinforce a strong sense of community, as well as provide a safe environment for students to discuss matters of faith.

“Small group is a place to really be mentored, to bring big questions like ‘Who am I?,’ ‘What is my purpose?,’ ‘What does it mean to be good?’ ” Stoneking said. “You’re not always exposing every part of your psyche in those large-group settings, so small group is a safe place.”

The close-knit community and small groups also encourage students to discuss other topics affecting their lives.

“Because we go into this community knowing we’re going to talk about religion, so many other barriers are broken down. We talk about gender, we talk about family, we talk about politics,” said Rosemary Costello, a Catholic fourth-year student majoring in sociology. “Because we live together, it makes those discussions easier.”

Costello believes that the discussions she’s had with other students at C.A. House have both challenged and strengthened her faith by allowing her to express her beliefs and doubts, as well as to listen to those of others.

“There are environments on campus or in my Catholic community where I’m not sure if I should say something,” she said. “But here, I know I can say something and people will either agree or disagree, and I’ll either change some aspect of what I was thinking, or be stronger in it.

“I’ve learned to stand up for what I believe.”

For Singh, the questions from other residents have led him to learn more about his own faith.

“Your parents teach you it, and you practice it, and you don’t question it. Others have questions; you have to have a reason,” Singh said. “It’s been challenging, but super-rewarding at the same time, (by) creating a strong foundation for your faith. As much as you teach others, you learn.”

Singh also attributes his personal appreciation of the Multifaith Living Community’s to the spiritual atmosphere of openness and acceptance.

“I feel everyone’s goal is to be loved and accepted. The first day I walked in, I was respected and loved,” Singh said. “To have a place where you can come home, it’s so cool — where you don’t have to ask, ‘Is someone going to harass me, or ask me why I wear a turban?’ I haven’t been to a lot of places where you have that much love and respect at ground zero.”

— Reach Anna Sturla at asturla@davisenterprise.net

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Davis Innovation Center application gives city options

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Pioneer students meet K-9 Officer Dexter

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Versatile cycling contributor Casale Jr. heads to Hall of Fame

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
     
    Leading indicators up 0.8%

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Huge gold nugget going up for sale

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Police warn of IRS phone scam

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Canada stunned by attacks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    High-flying fun at University Airport

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Arboretum plant sale is Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Parents’ Night Out on Friday at Pole Line Baptist

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Military Families seek help to send Hugs from Home

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Day of the Dead observance focuses on refugee children

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Mercer Clinic benefits from pooch costume pics

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    DPNS has play group, preschool openings

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    UCD Vet Med hosts animal ‘adoptathon’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Day of the Dead folk art class set

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Carlton invites community to its Haunted Harvest

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Fly-casting champion will speak to fishing enthusiasts

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Check out classic cars once again

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Flea Market planned Sunday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    A nose for mysteries: ‘Cadaver dog’ work more accepted by cops, courts

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    ‘Bak2Sac’ free train ride program launched

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Cooperatives meet community needs

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Co-op trivia

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

    Author visits Woodland for community book project

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Forum

    We support Archer, Adams

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    We need Sunder on board

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    A leader our schools deserve

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    Knowledgeable, experienced

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    I support John Garamendi

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    We have confidence in Madhavi

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B4

     
    Our view: Two more years for Garamendi

    By Our View | From Page: B4

    Two are especially qualified

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    A force for good on board

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    .

    Sports

    Davis tennis team takes title

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Picture-perfect: DHS field hockey finishes 14-0

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Blue Devils look for first home victory

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1

     
    Aggie men beat Cal Poly, 1-0; alone at the top

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Giants loss evens World Series at 1-1

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Devil soccer loss sets up important final week

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

     
    JV/frosh roundup: DHS underclassmen shine in water polo events

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Youth roundup: Hurricanes handle American River twice in one day

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    Girl Scouts join effort to keep kids healthy

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8 | Gallery

     
    Hand sanitizer versus soap and water

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

    What’s happening

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

     
    Name Droppers: Foster parent heads to First 5

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12

    .

    Arts

    If it can go wrong it will go wrong

    By Michael Lewis | From Page: A10

     
     
    San Francisco Symphony visits with conductor/pianist Zacharias

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    DMTC plans Halloween karaoke fundraiser

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    The Rhythm Future Quartet plays at Village Homes Community Center

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    All are welcome at Fun Time Follies

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    DHS Madrigals plan traditional English winter celebration

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    ‘Under the Covers’ concert benefits KDRT

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    DHS Madrigals host singing workshop

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    Jam with folk musicians on Friday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Dorothy Foytik

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Mariana Brumbaugh Henwood

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Thursday, October 23, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B10