Believing and Belonging on Campus

Creating Welcoming Spaces 11

Participating in the Kaufman Interfaith Institute's Photovoice project provided me with an invaluable experience. It offered a safe and welcoming space for discussing a sensitive topic like religion openly. Sharing my beliefs without fear of judgment…
Creating Welcoming Spaces 10

I love Judaism and practicing its core values, even if my traditional spiritual practice is lacking. I love the community and services. Being at GVSU, I am mostly removed from that community nowadays, mostly by my own choice. Photovoice made me…
Creating Welcoming Spaces 9

This is my Chimarrão mug next to my backyard fireplace. Chimarrão is a indigenous tea from my home region of south Brasil. It's immensely popular and is often shared and passed around at parties and other gatherings. For me, it represents what I…
Creating Welcoming Spaces 8

That small red smudge is a cardinal that had been resting on the vine covered awning outside the Arboretum. I believe that if you create the space for beauty and love, then beauty and love will flourish. Even if some beautiful things are fleeting,…
Creating Welcoming Spaces 7

My mother took this picture of me and my brothers in Salzburg, Austria. It was the last vacation we did as a family before I left for the United States, and it reminds me of the importance of family, as I have no family anywhere close to the…
Creating Welcoming Spaces 6

This poignant image depicts the tranquil moment of sunset, marking the time when Muslims break their fast during the holy month of Ramadan. Despite the demands of classes, navigating through the dusk hours proves challenging as I momentarily leave…
Creating Welcoming Spaces 5

The Arboretum represents the most valuable thing the GVSU campus provides me: a space to learn, grow, and build communities. The Arboretum is essentially a park, a place for plants to grow and animals and students to congregate. It's simple places…
Creating Welcoming Spaces 4

This photo was of a retreat with other Orthodox Christian college students from around the Midwest. This was a lovely retreat because I felt rather self-confident and secure in my own identity. When I looked at this puzzle, I realized each individual…
Creating Welcoming Spaces 3

I saw this LGBTQIA+ flag on a church when visiting Holland for the first time. I like how it shows that churches individually can decide to support the LGBTQIA+ community, which faces”, especially in the outer Grand Rapids area and within…
Creating Welcoming Spaces 2

As a queer person, it's sometimes tough to find religious spaces that feel like they actually accommodate us for all parts of who we are. Finding a church community often means grappling with significant trauma and pain caused by such groups. As a…
Creating Welcoming Spaces 1

In Islam, observing dietary laws, particularly the consumption of halal meat, is fundamental. "Halal" refers to food that is permissible or lawful according to Islamic law. Halal food, prepared in accordance with religious guidelines, carries immense…
Barriers to Belonging 9

This is the concrete walkway that connects the English buildings to the rest of campus. I make use of it almost every weekday as I shuffle between my English classes in Lake Huron Hall and my history classes in Mackinac. It's invaluable to me, but it…

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Believing and Belonging on Campus


Kaufman Interfaith Institute


Interfaith Photovoice


During the 2024 Winter semester at GVSU, the Kaufman Interfaith Institute and Interfaith Photovoice hosted nine students from different religious, spiritual, and secular backgrounds for a semester-long cohort centered on storytelling. By using predominantly mobile-phone photography, these students explored what it meant to believe and belong on campus and in the greater West Michigan community. This project was designed to help capture their experiences and stories, to enable them to find their voice through photography. The cohort culminated in an exhibition displayed on multiple GVSU campuses and curated by the students around three self-selected themes: Religious & Spiritual Practices, Barriers to Belonging, and Creating Welcoming Spaces.




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College students
Students, Foreign
LGBTQ+ people
Orthodox Eastern Church


Grand Valley State University Libraries. Special Collections and University Archives


Believing and Belonging on Campus: An Interfaith Photovoice Project (project)