Students share perspectives on SCORR conference

Student Congress on Racial Reconciliation members discuss their visions for campus culture.

Lena Smith, Writer

Biola University will host the 16th annual Student Congress on Racial Reconciliation on Feb. 24 and 25. This year’s conference theme, taken from Isaiah 56:7, is “A House of Prayer for All Peoples.” Students, staff and faculty members from across the country will gather under one roof to explore the ways in which Christian colleges and universities can reflect the role of the church as a place for “all peoples.”

As Biola University’s SCORR web page explains, “For our times, ‘all peoples’ encompasses the ethnically and socioeconomically diverse, the immigrant, the urban, suburban and rural community, the global and international community.”

The conference will host lectures, workshops, and panel discussions to cultivate participants’ understanding of racial reconciliation. For many Biola students, commitment to racial reconciliation extends beyond the conference; in fact, it has become a daily pursuit. Here, three Biola students share their experiences with racial reconciliation and their vision for that to flourish in our campus’ culture.

Nancy Davong-junior nursing major

Nancy Davong, a second generation Vietnamese-American, first recognized the need for racial reconciliation in her youth. Davong’s parents came to the United States from Laos as refugees.

“My parents experienced a lot of racism when they came [to America], especially with the fallout from the Vietnam War,” she said.

Davong’s experience has inspired her work as the Associated Students multicultural relations chair. Her desire is to see more cultural awareness and appreciation on campus.

“At Biola, our favorite word is ‘community,’ but what does the word ‘community’ really mean and what kind of community are we trying to foster?” she said.

For Davong, a flourishing and racially reconciled community would demonstrate unity and liberation for every student.

“[Racial reconciliation] is an inclusiveness of every ethnicity, national origin, gender, age, economic status and physical ability,” she said. “Liberation is for each person to be able to pursue wisdom and personal development to be the person that God wants them to be.”

Ciara Dines-sophomore communications major

Ciara Dines has grown to appreciate racial and ethnic diversity as a reflection of the character of God. This was first demonstrated to her through her experience in worship at Biola University.

“Gospel [music] is my first worship language,” Dines said. “When I first came [to Biola], I had to learn a second worship language — Christian contemporary music.”

Through this new and unexpected experience in worship, Dines’ perspective of God and the church was stretched.

“I have been able to see two different sides of who God is to me and others through my experience,” she said.

Dines’ vision for the Biola community is one that celebrates and embraces every race and culture.

“Christ works with colors,” Dines said. “He painted the tapestry. He wants us to see the different [ethnic groups] and build each other up. Maybe you won’t own all the things you learn [about other cultures], but at least you will have a greater insight into why they do what they do.”

Erika Sanchez-junior sociology major

When reflecting on her journey to Biola University, Erika Sanchez recognizes God’s guidance in every situation and circumstance.

“I grew up in a neighborhood that had a lot of drug wars [and] rivalries with other gangs,” Sanchez said. “It was not an easy place to grow up. There were a lot of things that could have kept me from going anywhere. I truly believe that God has a plan for me and he has been providing for me and protecting me every step of the way.”

Sanchez believes the root of racial and ethnic tensions can be traced back to the first error of the human condition in the Garden of Eden.

“There are a lot of things that have happened since the fall [of humanity],” she said. “That includes a separation from God and separation from each other. We as fallen creatures still have the tendency to be separate and distant from each other.”

Sanchez hopes to see students and faculty members reclaim unity by sharing their experiences in racial reconciliation with one another.

“Racial reconciliation means seeing one’s color and culture and embracing it because we are like brothers and sisters,” Sanchez said. “It doesn’t mean denying [one’s background]. I believe God ordained where we were going to be born and at which period of time that would be. It is a part of life and of something he designed.”

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