Walking humbly and turning tables
January 15, 2010
This February, Calvin College will host its fifth annual Faith and International Development Conference (FIDC). The event, which will take place from Feb. 4-6 on Calvin’s campus, is being coordinated entirely by Calvin students.
Seniors Rebecca Garofano and Danielle Sheffield have been preparing for this year’s FIDC since the end of last year’s conference. The two have organized the event with the help of a committee comprised entirely of student volunteers. “We have an incredible team of committee members,” Garofano said. “There’s no way this could happen without them.”
Calvin seniors Rebecca Garofano and Danielle Sheffield have been preparing for this year’s FIDC since the end of last year’s conference.
The two students, both international development majors, began coordinating the committee by e-mail while studying abroad during the fall 2009 semester. They said their experiences abroad added perspective and challenged them in the early stages of coordinating. “It helped us be intentional about communication,” Garofano said.
The upcoming conference weekend will feature four plenary speakers and several breakout sessions. The students have coordinated a number of events to promote discussion and provide opportunities for organizations and people to connect. In the evenings, attendees have the opportunity to watch a movie, see a concert or go ice skating in downtown Grand Rapids.
"You have people in a space who have stories to share,” Garofano said, “That can’t be a bad thing.”
A faith-based perspective
“We want to ask the question, ‘How do we engage the world from a Christian perspective?” Sheffield said.
The conference directors have been very intentional in keeping the conference focused on integrating faith into development. Ron Sider, the president of Evangelicals for Social Action, will be speaking several times throughout the conference. There will also be several opportunities for group worship and prayer. “There are conferences about international development,” Sheffield said, “but there aren’t many from a Christian faith (perspective).”
Calvin economics professor Roland Hoksbergen has acted as the FIDC faculty advisor since the first conference in 2006. Besides helping this year’s directors with coordination, he recommended and contacted the speakers for the plenary sessions.
An opportunity to learn
The speakers have experienced international development firsthand from different fields, health, economics, politics and more, something both Garofano and Sheffield said is a plus. Meanwhile the majority of FIDC attendees are Christian college students, most of whom are not international development majors.
"That’s the great thing about international development,” Sheffield said, "You can take something you are passionate about and use it. Any area where God has given you talent or passion can be applied to issues of social justice.”
~by Cloud Cray, communications and marketing