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Students of different faiths unite to plant trees, give back

Students plant trees

Read the full story by Laura Gallup in the Cornell Chronicle.

On a rainy Friday in May, five miles from Cornell’s main campus, 20 students – many who’d never before met – worked side by side digging holes, hauling mulch and planting trees at Groundswell Incubator Farm.

“It’s just really good to get to know each other and realize we’re all humans, and we all can connect on so many things,” said Nika Rice ’24, an animal science major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and a member of the Episcopal Church at Cornell. “I think it really leads to more empathy for others and understanding.”

Held May 10 and co-sponsored by the Office of Spirituality and Meaning-Making (OSMM), the David M. Einhorn Center for Community Engagement and Cornell United Religious Work, the inaugural Interfaith Service Day provided students with the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds and faiths. In addition to fostering new connections, attendees could engage with the Ithaca community and offered students a way to de-stress during the study period heading into final exams.

“We thought this would be a good opportunity to literally get our hands dirty – which I think is therapeutic,” said Francine Barchett ’19, MPS ’21, a third-year doctoral student in natural resources and the environment, and a member of the Cornell Faith and Environment Collective. “It helps to do things like this and to meet people who are different from us in many different ways.”