Photo by Abby Van Buren
UVU’s Reflection Center invites every student to engage in self-exploration while sipping on their beverage of choice during Cocoa, Coffee & Convo every Thursday.
The weekly event began Jan. 11 of this year as a way to encourage open conversations between students of all backgrounds. Students are invited to observe their experiences and stories, as well as those of others, in order to make connections.
“Ultimately, even if we have different values… we can relate to people and what they say,” Ellie Thompson, the Reflection Center coordinator, said.
The inspiration for this event comes from a similar one at the University of Northern Florida, where students engage in conversation over coffee, without having the event targeted to a specific religion or group, Thompson said.
Because of the community at UVU, she knew that coffee and conversation might not be as successful, so cocoa is also included to be more inclusive.
Topics that are discussed range from personal values to character and traditions because these are things that bind people together, according to Thompson.
The small group is expected to follow guidelines in order to help others feel respected and safe. The guidelines include: speak from the ‘I’ perspective by sharing your personal experience; seek to understand and listen; give the benefit of the doubt rather than assuming someone is asking a question with a malicious intent; bring your full self to the conversation and give equal time to others and yourself.
“We might fundamentally disagree if there is a heaven or a hell, or if there is a god, gods or no god at all, but we might fundamentally believe … in the value of education,” Thompson said. “We can share [other] core values.”
Thompson believes that community and connection is the answer. This activity is meant to help students find resources.
“I think being aware of different circumstances and resources in the community is really important,” Shannon Engberson, a community health major, said. “When I come here, I hope to better understand someone’s situation and what they’ve gone through and what they needed at that time.”