by Becca Morrow
On August 29th, the Interfaith Center welcomed international and domestic students with this year’s very first i-dinner (formerly known as the International Dinner). The event was held in the Student Union Ballrooms and was designed to give the students a chance to work together to answer trivia questions meant to both introduce this year’s theme of Human Trafficking and build community between local and non-local students. Each table held about eight people and comprised a team that competed with other tables for trivia game prizes over a delicious Indian dinner provided by the Interfaith Center from 5th Element restaurant (and a not-so-Indian red velvet cake provided by Baptist Collegiate Ministry and Campus to City Wesley).
This year, i-dinner also featured club tabling so students got the chance to meet other minority and faith- based clubs and organizations on campus. The news of last year’s i-dinner success carried through the summer as almost every table was completely filled with students. The event met my expectations of good food and good conversation, which many a philosopher has noted is central to spiritual wellbeing.
The trivia was themed to match the Interfaith Center and Better Together’s topic of interfaith cooperation as well as this year’s President’s Interfaith Service Challenge, which is focused on Human Trafficking. After a few rounds of religious based questions, the Human Trafficking round began – this ended up changing my perspective of modern day slavery almost entirely. I found I had severely underestimated the range and size of this issue. Through table conversation I learned that the trivia also made a similar impact on attending students as well. That particular round of questions excited students, including myself, to get the ball rolling with Better Together and the Interfaith Center to raise awareness of this growing problem and to begin projects to help eliminate it.
An experience like the first i-dinner trivia leaves a lasting impression on me when I realize that so much is happening right under my nose that I’m completely oblivious to. Often times what cannot be seen is assumed not to exist. Better Together did a great service to UNF’s students to raise awareness of the fallacy of this assumption. At first, it left me feeling a bit defeated when faced with the numbers of the growing issue, but interacting with other i-dinner attendees and hearing their enthusiasm to start working on the problem only left me feeling empowered. If one event can stimulate so much excitement over an important issue, imagine what a whole year of working to raise awareness can bring.
After the trivia round was over and the winning table collected their prize and the last of the food was eaten or boxed out, students stuck around a little longer to hang out and meet the tabling clubs. The Interfaith Center and Better Together were joined by the LGBT resource center, the Muslim Student Association, Campus to City Wesley, Jewish Student Union, Baptist Collegiate Ministry, Reformed University Fellowship, Ospreypalians, and Jacksonville Campus Ministry.
At the event’s end, I walked out with my mind and appetite satisfied. The turnout exceeded expectations leaving me to look forward to the next i-dinner held on November 7th.