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Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that – MLK
“Shocked, Numb, Dismayed.“ These were the initial feelings that my daughter had after she heard the election results. She is a first year student in college, and she shared them with me at 1:30 am Tuesday night. “I am not coming back home…” My son texted from Europe; he was away from the country for his study abroad semester. He had similar feelings.
I spent the rest of the night messaging my two smart, enthusiastic, and incredibly talented kids, helping them process the numbness, the void they felt in their world: a deep sinking hole. No one could sleep through the night. The next day, as I learned later, they stayed in their rooms with other college students, missed classed, in utter despair.
Today, my son tried hard to convince me not to wear my hijab (headscarf) as I got ready to speak at a solidarity rally in response to the elections at the Capitol. I understand his fear and the fear of so many others in my community, frightened that we will face prejudice and hostility due to the faith we practice.
We, just like Hispanics, African Americans, LGBTQ community, and women are worried. We are afraid of the people who work with us from nine to five, afraid of the doctors, nurses, colleagues, teachers, counselors, bus drivers, HR professionals, lawyers, realtors and all others that we deal with, wondering if they are the silent supporters of Trump, if they think we are less deserving, less intelligent, and should be treated differently. And we are angry that our colleagues, friends, and fellow citizens betrayed us by buying the rhetoric of bigotry and intolerance. Social media is full of stories of this fear and anger.
I refuse to be angry and will not give in to this fear. I have seen how fear has divided my countrymen and women. We are living in troubled times when people are being judged for the color of their skin or their belief system or their gender orientation. I know that in the past year children have been bullied in schools, women have been thrown out of Cafes, professionals have been fired from their jobs, travelers have been kicked out plans, college students have been shot in the head, and civil liberties of many have been curtailed — only because of the faith that they practice. And this is not the first time. We have seen it happen to Jews, Irish, Chinese, African Americans and many other groups in the past. But in the end, we always overcame and rose higher. This is what America is all about. What happened on 9/11 or 11/9 does not define this nation. Instead how we react to these heartrending events is what defines America.
America is not a static reality resulting from the efforts of the founding fathers, but it is a living reality that evolves and develops and improves to protect its diversity time and again. The America I believe in is not defined by one person in the White House no matter how powerful he might be, instead it is a beautiful story narrated by millions coming from different races, faiths, and backgrounds. The America I believe in is no different from our faith systems asking us to protect not only ourselves but all those who believe in its many freedoms. This is why I find solace in a spirituality that helps us heal and understand the deeper motivations for others’ actions and guides us to react in compassionate ways.
When God tells us to love the stranger for we were strangers too in the land of Egypt (Old Testament) or love the enemy and pray for the one who persecute us or be a source of mercy to all His creation whether human, animal, or environment (Quran), it is God’s way of telling us that there is a purpose to every being and a reason for each occurrence and we all have a role to play in this divine process. This election is not the end of the world but a small event in the larger scheme of things. Sometime we do not understand the processes that we are a part of, but we still have to play our part of spreading God’s love to others around us.
My faith tells me that life means change. Every day should be better than yesterday and the spiritual state of the heart should be better than before. If we do not change, we are dead inwardly. If we do not make progress, we are dead outwardly. Faith about growth inwardly and progress outwardly.
Even anger can be a teacher. Our anger over the election results can be a reminder that winning is not always success and losing is not always failure. It is all about progress and there is a lot of room for that, now more than ever before.
For me, this election is a wakeup call to action. It is a call to constructive actions that do not result from fear, but arise from that deep place inside us where all are safe and welcome, a place of love. It starts with understanding those who acted out of their fears of a vanishing middle class and economic insecurities; fears of immigrants and all others who will change the face of a white America; fears that allowed divisive and poisonous public discourse of Us versus Them.
I refuse to operate from the same divisive energy of Trumpism, although cloaked in a liberal garb. I refuse to continue the dialogue along the lines of college educated versus uneducated, or progressive versus horde minded, or liberal versus prejudiced, etc. I am not frightened.
I am full of hope and my call of action starts from healing through understanding and doing what we should have been doing long time ago: finding common ground, taking responsibility for the marginalized, giving voice to the weak, and not staying silent in the face of oppression — especially when it does not affect us directly. My call to action finds its strength in spiritual and manifest itself through building a beloved community; compassionate, diverse, and inclusive, with no one left behind. This is why I join my friend, Jay McDaniel, in the statement below, which represents our shared hope that, even amid our anger, we may all find freedom from fear and, yes, freedom for love.
Sophia Said is program director of the Interfaith Center of Arkansas. With a degree in developmental economics from the University of Utah and another in public policy from the Clinton School for Public Service, she has been tireless in her efforts to work for peace in Arkansas, and to promote interfaith work between Christians, Jews, Muslims and other religious denominations. She was named Peacemaker of the Year 2015 by the Arkansas Coalition for Peace and Justice on February 13, 2016.
The Office of Field Service Education at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service will facilitate two information sessions for non-profits, government agencies, businesses, foundations, or other organizations working on issues of social change that are interested in becoming a field service partner for the 2017-2018 academic year.
The information sessions will cover different types of student projects, how to apply, and provide opportunities for questions. The two sessions:
Marvel Session: This information session will be held on Thursday, November 17, 2016 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at Boys, Girls, Adults Community Development Center (306 US 49, Marvell, AR 72366). To RSVP, click here.
Little Rock Session: This information session will be held on Friday, November 18, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the Clinton School of Public Service, Sturgis Hall (1200 President Clinton, Little Rock, AR 72201). To RSVP, click here.
“The Clinton School relies on effective community partnerships to provide students with valuable real world experience related to their academic work,” said Christina Standerfer, Interim Director of Field Service. “Without strong community partner involvement we would be not able to offer the rich education in public service that is the hallmark of the Clinton School.”
Practicum projects are selected by the Clinton School and completed by small teams of students in order to fulfill degree requirements and gain valuable experience, while also adding tremendous value to the partner organization. Applications for practicum projects are due on March 18, 2017.
Researchers from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service are studying how politics and religion mesh in the 2016 presidential election.
The nonpartisan study is led by Dr. Rebecca Glazier, UALR associate professor of political science, and Dr. Warigia Bowman, assistant professor at Clinton School of Public Service, to understand how the efforts of churches, mosques, and synagogues in Little Rock influence their communities and congregations.
“This research really began with a puzzle,” Glazier said. “Churches that hold health screenings have congregants with lower cholesterol and other positive health outcomes. I am more interested in political, community, and civic health than in blood pressure, so I wanted to know if the same thing happens for community and political engagement: Do churches that are engaged in the community have congregants with better civic health?”
This study builds on a smaller study Glazier conducted during the 2012 presidential election. Research questions include: Do religious organizations that are more engaged in the community have congregants with higher levels of political efficacy? Do sermons on global political issues increase political involvement? Do churches that are locally active improve the community engagement of their congregants?
“This collaborative UALR/Clinton School research project represents Little Rock’s most comprehensive analysis of the city’s diverse religious organizations and their engagement with and many contributions to the community,” said Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service. “Given the faith-related political issues that have emerged in the 2016 elections, this study is also exploring if and how local church leaders and their congregations deal with these topics.”
Student researchers from both institutions will survey congregation members in Little Rock the Sunday before the presidential election (Nov. 6) to study how religious organizations influence their members and create a sense of community.
Approximately 70 students from Glazier’s “Research Practicum on Religion and Electoral Politics” and Bowman’s “Field Research Methods” courses will participate in the study. The study provides student researchers with an invaluable opportunity to learn social and research skills that will give them an advantage in the competitive job market, Bowman said.
“The Little Rock Congregation Study provides an unparalleled opportunity for students to get to know the Little Rock community, while simultaneously learning how to do research and being engaged in this exciting election year,” Bowman said. “Students will learn, both in theory and in practice, how to conduct interviews, conduct and analyze surveys, and hold focus groups. These are valuable skills for people in marketing, the nonprofit world, and government.”
Researchers sent surveys to 392 congregations and religious organization in Little Rock. Clinton Public School students conducted interviews with leaders of the 82 congregations that responded. Seventeen congregations were selected to participate in the Nov. 6 survey collection.
The 17 houses of worship include four black Protestant churches, four Evangelical Protestant churches, three mainline Protestant churches, two Catholic churches, one Mormon church, one mosque, one Jewish temple, and one non-denominational Unitarian Universalist church.
The results of the study will be presented during a community event in April 2017 that will include leaders of some of the participating congregations.
For more information, contact Glazier at 501.569.3331 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Reserve your seats by emailing email@example.com or calling (501) 683-5239
“Overcoming Addiction and Ending the Stigma,” Ginny Atwood Lovitt
Wednesday, November 2, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall)
– Ginny Atwood Lovitt is the executive director of the Chris Atwood Foundation, which works to provide recovery support and resources to people and families affected by addiction, to change the conversation and policies about addiction from ones of stigma to support, and to prevent the disease from taking hold of future generations. The Chris Atwood Foundation began in 2013 after the Atwood family lost their son and brother, Chris, to an accidentally fatal heroin overdose. He passed away at age 21, following a 6-year battle with addiction.
“The Robinson Center: Honoring the Past — Anticipating the Future”
Thursday, November 10, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. (Robinson Center)
– Join us for a panel discussion on the history and future of the Robinson Center. Members of the renovation project will talk about the rich history, the design details of the project, the economic impact to the region, the capabilities of the building going forward, and the significant impact to the arts in central Arkansas.
The panel includes:
Mark Stodola (Mayor, City of Little Rock)
Gretchen Hall (president & CEO, Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau)
Kevin McClurkan (management partner, Ennead Architects)
David Porter (principal, Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects)
Moderator: Skip Rutherford (dean of the Clinton School of Public Service)
“Sandboxes to Ballot Boxes: Creating a Local Children’s Movement,” Margaret Brodkin
Monday, November 14, 2016 at 12:00 Noon (Sturgis Hall)
– Kids can’t vote. Their needs often fall at the bottom of civic priorities where police and fire prevail in cutthroat local budget battles. Margaret Brodkin has spent 30 years successfully fighting for children – first in San Francisco and now in communities throughout California. She turned child advocates and service providers into a political force to be reckoned with in her home city – creating the country’s first local dedicated budget carve-out for children, which now garners $75 Million annually for children’s services. Brodkin will describe the strategies for taking on City Hall, as well as using the electoral process to create local dedicated funding streams for kids. Brodkin argues that the greatest opportunity for political success on behalf of children is at the local level, where innovative policy can flourish.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016 at 12:00 Noon (Sturgis Hall)
– Physics wunderkind Taylor Wilson astounded the science world when, at age 14, he became the youngest person in history to produce fusion. The University of Nevada-Reno offered a home for his early experiments when Wilson’s worried parents realized he had every intention of building a reactor in their garage. Wilson now intends to fight nuclear terror in the nation’s ports, with a homemade radiation detector priced much lower than most current devices. In 2012, Wilson’s dreams received a boost when he became a recipient of the $100,000 Thiel Prize. Wilson now intends to revolutionize the way we produce energy, fight cancer, and combat terrorism using nuclear technology.
“Incarceration in Arkansas: A Public Health Crisis and A Call to Action,” Nickolas Zaller
Wednesday, November 16, 2016 at 12:00 Noon (Sturgis Hall)
– Nickolas Zaller is an associate professor in the department of health and health education at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Boozman College of Public Health and received his Ph.D. in international health, focusing on disease control and prevention, from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He has done extensive research on physical and mental health issues related to incarceration, and re-entry. Arkansas now leads the nation in the percentage of prison population growth.
“Locally Laid: How We Built a Plucky, Industry-Changing Egg Farm From Scratch”
Thursday, November 17, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall) *Book signing to follow
– Lucie Amundsen, co-founder and marketing chick for Locally Laid Egg Company, tells the story of how a midwestern family with no agriculture experience went from a few backyard chickens to a full-fledged farm. The newbie-farmers also deal with their own shortcomings, making for a failed inspection and intense struggles to keep livestock alive during a brutal winter. But with a heavy dose of humor, they learn to negotiate the highly stressed no-man’s-land known as Middle Agriculture. Amundsen sees firsthand how these mid-sized farms, situated between small-scale operations and mammoth factory farms, are vital to rebuilding America’s local food system.
“From Banking to the Thorny World of Politics,” former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shaukat Aziz
Tuesday, November 22, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. (Sturgis Hall) *Book signing to follow
– Shaukat Aziz served as Prime Minister of Pakistan between 2004 and 2007, following five years as its Finance Minister and thirty years at Citibank. While in office, he steered one of the biggest economic turnarounds in recent history, taking Pakistan from the brink of bankruptcy. His time in government was marked by high economic growth, exchange rate stability, a reduction in poverty and an upsurge in local and foreign investment. He survived a suicide bombing by Al Qaeda while on the campaign trail, driving him to engage in the fight against global terrorism.
Richard Brodhead, President of Duke University
Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at 12:00 Noon (Sturgis Hall)
– Richard H. Brodhead is the ninth President of Duke University and the William Preston Few Professor of English. Since arriving at Duke in 2004, Brodhead has enriched undergraduate education, working to unify Duke’s academic opportunities with the residential experience. Brodhead led the expansion of Duke’s financial aid endowment to ensure that admitted students can afford to attend regardless of their financial circumstances. Under his leadership, Duke has engaged in a renewal of iconic campus buildings that has preserved historic exteriors while transforming interiors into welcoming spaces that foster true community. Duke also established the Duke Global Health Institute, an interdisciplinary center that works to translate research findings to address health care inequities and improve the health of people around the world, and launched the signature program DukeEngage, which gives Duke undergraduates the opportunity to apply their classroom knowledge in service to society, either in the U.S. or around the world.
*Reserve your seats by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (501) 683-5239.
*If you are unable to attend a public program in person, you can watch most programs live online here.
The University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service is now accepting applications for enrollment in its Master of Public Service (MPS) degree program for the Fall of 2017.
The first school in the nation to offer a master’s in public service, the Clinton School accepts students who are interested in pursuing or enhancing their careers in nonprofit, for-profit, or governmental work.
Starting this year, the Clinton School has a test-optional application. That means that if applicants feel their previous academic transcripts, combined with their professional and public service experience, are sufficient, they are not required to submit a graduate school entrance exam. However, they may submit a test score if they choose. The Clinton School has no application fee and strongly believes in educational accessibility, and therefore invites all interested public servants to apply to our MPS program.
Students come to the Clinton School from across the country and around the world. Admitted students will have a strong academic background, along with a demonstrated passion for helping others through public service.
“Students at the Clinton School combine skills learned in the classroom with experience gained in the field to provide positive outcomes for the national and international organizations they serve,” said Clinton School Dean James L. “Skip” Rutherford III. “I’m very proud of our high graduation rates, high career placement rates, and the many personal and professional opportunities our students receive during and following their two years of study.”
Modeled on President Clinton’s vision of building leadership through civic engagement, the Clinton School offers a practical approach to learning through the combination of coursework and for-credit field service projects.
During the two-year, 40 credit-hour program, Clinton School students complete three field service projects: a team-based project in Arkansas during their first year; an international project during the summer after their first year; and a final individual project in an area of their own interest.
Clinton School students also benefit from participating in the school’s renowned speaker series, which hosts more than 100 speakers per academic year, such as senators, cabinet officials, ambassadors, academics, CEOs, philanthropists, authors, and journalists.
The Clinton School also offers concurrent degree programs in law, public health, and business with other University of Arkansas System schools.
The Freeman Playground will provide a safe place in the Delta town of Helena, AR to enhance the physical and mental lives of children and families by increasing their health and wellness, to help avoid obesity, diabetes and other health risks, and to discourage recreational drug use, crime and violence. The playground will provide a safe, attractive, fun place to play that is also accessible to people of all abilities (ADA-approved) with ramps for wheelchairs, elliptical equipment, and a poured rubber surface. It will be a memorial to baby Freeman who died at 10 months of age due to a rare syndrome. He was the only child of his parents, and they wish to honor his life by creating a playground for families to enjoy together, enjoy fresh air and exercise.