More students in Taylor Branch’s HIST 493: The King Years course took a leap out of their comfort zones and share their perspectives on those experiences.
Don Clark, Digital Communication major, Creative Writing minor
Activity: “I visited a small Ukrainian church during their Sunday service.”
Why it was out of your comfort zone: “I felt a bit out of place initially, simply because I am an atheist and only enter churches for weddings, and then only when begged to do so. But I carried no preconceived notions about these people prior to entering their church. They were an unknown quantity to me, and that was what piqued my interest in them.”
The key lesson: “My overarching impression was that the Ukrainians in my neighborhood are a private, pious, close-knit community that welcomes outsiders but would just as soon be left alone. The older congregants were much more inviting to me. If there was a key lesson, I suppose it is the fact that any nationality can be a mystery to anyone until you’ve broken bread, or shared an hour of worship, with them.”
Stephanie Danesie, History major
Activity: “I attended service at Douglas Memorial Community Church [in midtown Baltimore].”
Why it was out of your comfort zone: “I was raised Catholic and have not attended church for a long time. I felt it was awkward to attend a different church uninvited [without] knowing any of its members.”
The key lesson: “Everyone at Douglas Memorial was so cordial. Prior to the start of service, members moved from their seat to hug me and say welcome. During fellowship, I hugged and kissed just about everyone there. Pastor Yeary asked first-time visitors to stand, which I did along with a few guests from the Peabody Institute, and the congregation clapped for us. The service lasted for two-and-a-half hours, and I thought it flew by. The choir was supported by a full band, everyone danced and sang, I participated in communion and shared comments with the lady sitting next to me throughout the service. At the end, I met the pastor and his wife, and I was invited back. It was a great experience, and I would feel most comfortable going to church at Douglas again.”
Adnan Hameed, Business Administration major (International Business specialization)
Activity: “I attended a Sunday service in an all-black church.”
Why it was out of your comfort zone: I had never been to a service before, and as a Muslim, I felt uncomfortable to what kind of reaction [people would have to me] while I was in the church.
The key lesson: “I learned that the people were very welcoming and did not judge me by my religion but rather by the content of my character. They did not question why I was a Muslim and thus showed the importance of respecting one’s religious beliefs and all religions. We should get out of our box and learn more about other cultures before we judge someone or his religious practices.”