Friday, December 18, 2009

Blizzard, i-phone, both help college presentations

It is common for Bahá’ís to be invited to give a presentation about the Faith to college and university comparative religions classes. This report from Colorado Springs, CO (A) describes 2 such gatherings, one of which took place during a literal blizzard (but no snowstorm can hold back dedicated teachers). Particularly noteworthy is how the friends used these opportunities to practice what they had learned in the institute process to share a direct presentation about the Faith. The receptivity of the students is very inspiring to see. And technology continues to play its part in the teaching process—I loved how the seeker just automatically “pulled up” a photo of the Shrine of the Báb on their i-phone!

Four of us were scheduled last Sunday to give a presentation about the Faith to a class of Inter-Faith Ministerial candidates who were all due to be ordained in two weeks. . . .

The Saturday night before our scheduled presentation, the storm hit Colorado Springs, and all churches and other institutions cancelled their services and functions that Sunday. Since we were snowed in, we were under the impression that our class would be cancelled as well. But then we learnt that the class was still on since one of the other speakers (who was due to give a presentation right after us) lived close by the school and was planning to get there and give his presentation. So, we too braved the weather and headed out.

To our surprise, the roads were fine. We arrived and waited for our turn.

One of the friends gave a wonderful power point presentation about the Faith. We were preparing to wrap up and leave when the instructor of the class announced that the person due to speak after us was not going to make it (his car skidded on the roads so he returned home). As a result of that, we were given another 45 minutes for questions and answers!

The room was filled with energy as we were asked questions. The students who were around 15 in number, asked for contact information and links on the Web. They were not ready to let us go easily. One lady asked if she could help with our children’s classes after we shared with them information about the core activities. Another asked for a copy of the power point presentation. They were commenting fondly on Bahá’u’lláh’s quotations and the concepts introduced.

In brief, we left the class with hugs and a world of appreciation from the students as well as to Bahá’u’lláh for the gift of our Faith.

Four days later, one of us was scheduled to give a presentation on the Faith at a Comparative Religions class at the community college. It was the third time that the professor teaching this course had invited the Bahá’ís to do this. There were 22 students present. They were given an introduction to the Faith based on the presentation in Ruhi Book 6 for a whole hour. Then the floor was open to questions which lasted another 30 minutes.

The students demonstrated extreme interest in what they were hearing, and their professor even more so. He kept on remarking to the students, “You see? Didn’t I tell you it was a fascinating religion?” or “This is remarkable! Very unique!”

The subject matter aroused the students’ interest to such an extent that, when the presenter was talking about the Shrine of the Báb on Mount Carmel, one of the students pulled up the photo of the Holy Shrine on his i-phone and passed it around so that all the students could see it.

The Bahá’í used that action to emphasize the point on how humanity has advanced so much and how it has “contracted into a single neighborhood” that there is a dire need for a global religion that can accommodate all.

At the end, the professor asked the presenter if she would visit his class every semester, and of course the answer was, “You bet!” They also decided to get together again in order to further discuss the unique inclusive character of the Bahá’í Faith, as well as other questions that could take them deeper into the study of the Faith.

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