Student Reflection By Tikva Velazquez '23
April 26, 2022
When you enter the Interfaith Center you might be taken aback by the vastness of the chapel, the
way the walls feel like they are floating, or you might find yourself feeling calm, swaddled in the
warmth of sunlight and quiet of the space. For everyone on campus, I can imagine the Interfaith
Center takes on a different form and meaning, molding to their needs. But for me, the Interfaith
Center has become a safe space on campus. The place where I feel most at peace and
comfortable in my skin.
When I began working at the Interfaith Center three years ago, I was a little freshman in a new,
intimidating environment. I was desperately searching for a place I felt I belonged. In my first
year working there, I befriended several of my co-workers, mostly seniors who were fountains of
wisdom when it came to what classes I should take and which professors to avoid. Alongside my
other, younger docents, I didn’t feel so alone in braving the waves of college. And, I began to
Raised in mostly the Jewish faith tradition, I didn’t have much experience with other religions
and spiritual practices, but as I continued to work at the Interfaith Center I learned and allowed
every bit of information to soak in. In setting for Jumu’ah prayers I learned about Islam, working
during Ash Wednesday taught me about Catholicism, and being present during the unveiling of a
new sculptural showcase taught me about Sikhism. Every day was built on the understanding
that there is so much outside of my individual worldview.
When returning to campus after quarantine, I was met with lots of anxiety and fear. After almost
a year and a half away, I didn’t have many friends and felt out of place on a campus where I was
now an upperclassman. But in returning to the Interfaith Center, I found not only a welcoming
space but a wonderful community.
In the offices of the Interfaith Center, chaplains, staff, and docents go about their days setting for
services and maintaining the building. We work so that everyone who comes and goes through
those doors feels welcome, and simultaneously, I began to feel welcome too. Some of my
favorite moments at Chapman have taken place within those walls. From speaking about Judaism
with Rabbi Corie Yutkin to laughing with my fellow docents behind the front desk. From
learning about the St. John’s Bible with Reverend Nancy Brink to speaking about identity with
Dr. Jay Kumar, each of these experiences has allowed me to grow into the person I am today.
College, as many have noted, is a breeding ground for change. These four years mold and shape
you until your campus spits you out into the world as a fully formed person. Yes, my classes and
professors have taught me invaluable lessons. But who broadened my worldview? Who
ingrained in me a love of diversity and understanding? Who taught me that there is beauty in
sitting beside someone unlike yourself and having a conversation? I suppose I have the Interfaith
Center to thank for that.