Attenders react to Faith and International Development Conference

Freshta Tori Jan, a student leader of a conference centered around how to live faithfully in a globalized world, shared with Chimes, “To me it’s not about being a nationalist or a patriot. I’m a global citizen.”

Discussions of justice, humility and learning arose from the 14th annual Faith and International Development Conference (FIDC) on February 7-9. Guests attended plenary sessions led by authoritative speakers such as Carol Bremer-Bennett, Kuki Rokhum and Charles Owubah, with additional smaller breakout sessions. One of the freshman student leaders, Freshta Tori Jan, sat down with Chimes to share why the conference was meaningful to her.

The FIDC sought to understand how people of faith should participate in global development.

The challenge that Tori Jan hopes this conference will spark is an awakening to the reality of injustice in the world. “Everyday there are people who live a life in so much ease. You can live in ease, but the fact that you live in ignorance and try to hide from the realities of the world… that’s just so dangerous.”

Tori Jan explained that language was an important focus of the conference. “Nobody is voiceless. Everyone has a voice, but whose voice gets to be heard is how the society is constructed.” Citing one of the discussions during the conference, she said “I hope our peers get from this that they don’t have to be the voice of someone else, but instead make that person realize that they have a voice.”

Other attendees shared the ways the conference was powerful for them.

“I actually was a Peace Corps volunteer and got back in September. Being able to hear about the savior complex… it is something that is very real in development work,” shared Jenna Van Bruggen, a 2016 Calvin alumna. The conference led her to be “filled with hope again.”

Tiffany Gosselink, also a Calvin alumna, echoed that theme of hope. “I always like to learn how other people are inspired and what work they’re doing in the world… that gives me new ideas about things I can be doing some day.”

Manato Jansen, a senior international development major at Calvin, commented on Kuki Rokhum’s session. “If one of our main focuses [in international development work] is to stay relevant as individuals, then our focus on good development work starts to disappear.” He emphasized “getting rid of the savior mentality and boosting our servant mentality.”