A week ago, while scanning my inbox, I noticed a rather strange announcement from a student club:
A group of students, of their own free-will (ha!), discussing theological fatalism? I’ve been out of the classroom for a while, but I would have to say this was an outlier. The Tea Club, as I discovered later, was a student organized club (comprised primarily of Sophomores) with the following mission:
Tea club offers students a comfortable, civil and respectful atmosphere to discuss philosophical and political topics over a hot cup of tea.
The world could certainly use more of this. I was intrigued, so I dropped by to see it in action.
As I walked in the door of Dr. deGravelles' room, the conversation was underway. About ten students had arranged desks in a circle of sorts. One student would pose a question about the topic; “what do you think”, or, “what does this mean,” were par for the course. Other students would respond, some informing their answers from their faith or using logical arguments and reason to stake out a position. Positions were challenged and rebutted, but with unusual grace for teenagers.
The topic was interesting, yes, but the subtle action occurring below the surface of the conversation gave me hope for the future. Ideologically, the students in the room represented opinions ranging from conservative to liberal. Their religious backgrounds varied. Some were athletes, some were not. Some were budding artists and some were quiet students on the campus and in the classroom. They were a cross-section of Episcopal. They didn’t necessarily agree on any conclusion and challenged each other, but they remained in the room, at the table, engaged and listening.
I was fortunate to witness the powerful combination of student interest coupled with the excellent coaching of club sponsors, Dr. Khun and Dr. deGravelles. This thirty minute club meeting was demonstrating to those involved that diversity of thought and civility is foundational to the discussion and understanding of ideas.
I’d imagine if you ask most of the members of tea club why they participate, you would get a range of answers. For some, it’s a place to be heard, for others a place to learn about new ideas, or it might be a place where they feel they belong. The same holds true for the broader Episcopal community. Faculty, staff, students, administrators, and parents all bring unique perspectives to the table. Diversity of thought, experience, and culture make our community stronger, #StrongeruKnighted.