Pasta fills bellies and builds relationships

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Hillel’s Kourtney Spaulding serves pasta to students from all the campus religious communities in an effort to bridge relationships.

On a snowy, cold Tuesday night in December, students line up for warm pasta at the Kilian J. and Caroline F. Schmitt Interfaith Center.

The free dinner is a chance for students to meet the chaplain staff in a non-worship setting. The only item on the agenda is pasta.

Jeff Hering, director of the Center for Religious Life, says the twice a month dinner attracts about 80 to 100 students.

Audra Rehbaum is attending her first pasta dinner with roommate Kathryn Hallinan. Both are graduate students in deaf education and both are members of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

Hallinan heard about InterVarsity before coming to RIT. She is a small group Bible study leader and a regular attendee at large group meetings. Rehbaum also was looking for a Christian community to join and had heard about InterVarsity from her brother, who graduated two years ago from RIT.

Across the room, Mimi Sharbani, a third-year biotechnology major from Malaysia, knew about the pasta dinner because she uses the prayer room at the Interfaith Center for her daily prayers.

Hillel program director Kourtney Spaulding, John Iamaio, of Campus Crusade for Christ, and Rauf Bawany, Muslim chaplain, chat with the students as they serve pasta. Hering is in the kitchen cooking.

Hering says the pasta dinners started about 10 years ago and have continued because of their popularity.

“This is a setting where students wouldn’t expect to see chaplains,” Hering says. “All of this is to bridge relationships.”

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