Introduction to Meetings

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The Awakening Project is an interfaith project. Our Vision is to find ways for people of different faiths and backgrounds to ‘pull together’ for a more just society.

Building on the experience of our student projects in the past summers since 2020, we are offering opportunities for students to organize and facilitate Zoom conversations to discuss podcasts and articles on our website 

Decide if you would like to ‘Host’ a meeting or be a ‘Participant’

The role of the Host is to facilitate (a) Zoom conversation(s) with two or more other students – the ‘Participants’ – who will be a part of your team.

This project is a great opportunity to develop:

Creating safe spaces for conversations:

“One of the activities our society is most deficient about is creating safe spaces for honest conversations about spirituality and social justice. The role of the host or facilitator is to keep the space safe and the participants should ask open honest questions and hear each other. People need to be ‘heard into speech’ so that everyone speaks.” (Parker Palmer)

The steps to facilitating a conversation include:

  1. Select one or more podcasts, or articles, from those available on the Awakening Project’s website  at
  2. Prepare a summary of the podcast(s) or articles, and create a list of questions for discussion.
  3. Identify three or more students (can be from a group of your friends) who will listen to the podcasts selected. The Host will share the questions with the Participants. Allow all participants to review the questions prior to the Zoom meeting.
  4. Organize a 40-minute zoom session or meeting to discuss the podcasts or articles, and the questions that have been selected by your team.
  5. Do a report of your discussion with a summary of students’ comments of the podcasts listened to – an example is the report outlined in this PowerPoint that was created by a previous group of students: Reports from other discussions can be located on our Meetings Archive page. The purpose of the PowerPoint presentations is for students to share with others their perspective and interests regarding faith and social justice issues. 

Zoom Conversation Facilitator Opportunities

Zoom Conversation Facilitator - University/College Students

Zoom Conversation Facilitator - Secondary School Students

Zoom Conversation Guidelines

Meeting Guidelines

  • The conversations are an opportunity for students to discover new voices and to have meaningful conversations about what they have heard or read.
  • We don’t evaluate the meetings. We want students to learn from each other and from examining the various topics and speakers on the Awakening web site.
  • We want to encourage students to share their experiences and exchange ideas on what the prophetic voices are saying.
  • The PowerPoint presentations are a way for sharing with others their interest in faith and social justice issues. We may need to edit these reports as necessary.
  • It is best if the host can send out a list of questions beforehand to the participating students – to reflect on prior to the Zoom session.
  • The host of each discussion will do a report on their conversation. A complete archive of past meetings can be found on our website’s Meetings Archive page. 

*Project Coordinators reserve the right to modify slides if they have inaccuracies or points that may cause misinterpretations. 

  • Speak as much as possible from your own experience.
    • It could include the experience of learning something from the podcast or readings.
    • Participants are encouraged to not bring in external authorities to the discussion. It is more important to speak from your own experience to what you have heard or read.
  • Everyone’s experience is valid. Even not having had a similar experience is valid.
  • No one’s experience is wrong. That’s how they experienced it; that’s the way it is for them.
  • It’s legitimate to ask questions about someone’s experience — for clarity, or to seek common links with your own experience. It is also legitimate to summarize, in your own words, what you hear someone else saying. Do not dispute the experience itself. You may offer alternate interpretations, but do not insist that your interpretation is more correct than theirs.
  • Listen first. Later, think about how to respond.
  • Refer to other sources (such as stories or reference texts) only as parallels to your own experience. Draw on others to illustrate your own thoughts, not as a substitute for them.
  • Accept that anyone may tell you, at any time, that you have said enough.

Christopher Grafos was a high school teacher who had identified a gap in critical thinking skills that was holding bright students back and this inspired him to launch a program, and he subsequently founded a company BridgesEDU – to offer courses to Grades 11 & 12 students. Grafos comments: “They have come up through a high school system that encourages them to find the right answer, and not necessarily an answer that considers different points of view or shows depth of reflection”.  Even students on college campuses are expressing a deep hunger for wisdom, and are finding little to fulfill this yearning in their classes or elsewhere.” 

Anne Snyder – comments in her book ‘The Fabric of Character
“We don’t live in a highly reflective society. Most of the time we’re rushing, seeking efficiency and results. But reflection is vital to our growth. When reflection is guided by deep listening, it situates a person in his or her broader context such that he or she can gain perspective, see blind spots that need to be corrected, and discern the right course of action. Reflection can be both a solitary discipline and a communal experience. Fruitful reflection yields action, and change. The goal is to send participants back to their daily lives inspired and equipped with both practical wisdom and a sense of strengthened purpose.” 

Reinhold Niebuhr, a theologian and intellectual, once said that “the tragedy of man is that he/she can conceive self-perfection but cannot achieve it.”1 Even though humans can envisage and conceptualize a perfect society, human existence appears to be a narrative of fallen kingdoms and empires.  (1)

“It’s only with the heart that one can see rightly — what is essential is invisible to the eyes.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

A Reflection
by Joan Chittister

As we go into the world,
may we be passionate about God’ s will for us.
May we be passionate about justice for every living thing:
every wetland,
every ocean,
every child,
every inner city,
every woman,
every man,
every moment of life.
And may we live passionately in our renewed call to servanthood:
to bear quiet witness;
to thunder with justice;
to suffer with hope;
to wash our lives anew.
May we cry “Glory! Glory!,”
as we bless and serve each other with peace.

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