SITE VISIT

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Wat Buddharangsi of Miami- Buddhist temple

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Al-Ihsaan Mosque

One of the main projects in class is the site visit. Every student must visit a religious site outside their tradition. Not just a different denomination, but a different community outside your comfort zone.

This is one of the most challenging and transformational assignments. Yes, it will be uncomfortable, awkward, and maybe a little intimidating or scary. But in every single case, students have not only come back alive but inspired and transformed. Keep in mind that academia is not just about reading books at the library, but also engaging with your subject and getting first-hand experience. The art of interviewing and observation is not just the prerogative of journalists. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. One thing I can tell you for certain is that people, regardless of who they are, want to share their story -EVERYONE-. If you care enough to ask, you will hear amazing stories.

Researching your chosen site before assisting is imperative. Learn about dress codes, rituals and also when is the best time to assist, or if they have upcoming events or festivities. It is very recommended that you call beforehand and explain that you are a student interested in visiting. Most likely they will arrange for some representative to greet you at the entrance and show you around.  This person can become your gatekeeper and further introduce you to the community for a fuller experience.

Assist at least three times. The first time, will allow you to break the ice, by the second visit you should be making connections, and by the third, people know you are genuinely interested and will open up even more.

As part of this assignment, students are expected to keep a journal- this journal can be in the form of a video, an audio, or notes. You post at least 1 journal entry describing your process of access, challenges, interviews, etc. By sharing your personal experience you can help or inspire other classmates through the process.

This space will be used for you to also publish your  site visit paper. (More instructions are available on the syllabus).

Here is a list of places in South Florida that you can visit. Keep in mind that your options are NOT limited to this list. Do your own research and help by adding more religious sites to the list.

RELIGIOUS SITES OF SOUTH FLORIDA

A REMINDER TO ALL STUDENTS THAT THE SITE VISIT AND REPORT MUST BE DONE FOR A RELIGIOUS TRADITION THAT IS NOT THE STUDENT’S OWN. I strongly recommend to start your fieldwork early, and to attend at least 3 times to have a successful report.

ISLAMIC: the times to go are Fridays and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. Female students can bring a scarf with them if they don’t want to stand out, but it is not required.

Miami Gardens Mosque (Sunni) 4305 N.W. 183 street
Miami, Florida 33055

Mosque of Miami (Sunni) 7350 N.W. 3rd Street Miami, Florida 33126 305-261-7622

Masjid Al-Ansar (Sunni) 5245 N.W. 7th Avenue Miami, Florida 33127 305-757-8741

Islamic School of Miami Masjid al-Noor (Sunni) 11699 SW 147 Ave Miami, FL 33196

(305) 408-0400
Tasnim Uddin, Principal of School
Friday: 1:30 pm, Islam School on Sundays: 10am-12pm (behind the Exxon gas station)

Islamic Jafferia Association Imambara (Shia) 10554 N.W. 132nd Street
Hialeah Gardens, Florida 33016
(305) 557-6835

http://www .ijamiami.org/

Muhammad’s Mosque # 29 (Nation of Islam) 5660 N.W. 7th Ave.
Miami, Florida
305-756-9136

BAHAI

FIU Bahai Club 305-436-2490

Bahai Faith (South) 9300 S. Dixie Hwy. Miami, Florida 305-570-8886

Bahai Faith (North) 4365 Rock Island Rd. Ft. Lauderdale
(North of Commercial) 954-524-4084

BUDDHIST

(Nichiren Buddhist)
Sokka Gakkai International Miami Community Center 20000 S.W. 36th St.
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 33332 954-349-5200

Avalokitesvara Buddhist Study Center (Buddhist) 7550 S.W. 82nd Court
Miami, Florida 33143
305-271-6361/ 267-8000

International Zen Institute of Florida (Buddhist) Dharma House
3860 Crawford Avenue
Miami, Florida 33133

305-448-8969

Wat Buddharangsi Temple (Thai, Buddhist) 15200 S.W., 240th Street
Homestead, Florida
305-245-2702

Amida Temple (“Pure Land” Buddhist) c/o Kuang-Hsi Wu
12815 S.W. 119 Terrace
Miami, Florida 33186 -305-385-2866

International Dharma Center (Buddhist) P.O. Box 141728
Coral Gables, Florida
33114-1728

305-267-8000 (Ileana Davis)
Kagyu Shedrup Chöling (Tibetan Buddhist)

1905 Monroe Street
Hollywood, Florida 33020 954-920-1346

HINDU: Plan to attend Sunday mornings at 10:00 a.m.

Shiva Vishnu Temple 5661 Dykes Rd. (S.W. 160th Ave)
Pembroke Pines (Davie)
954-689-0471 webmaster@shivavishnu.org

(I-75 north, exit at Sheridan, go west to Dykes Road, then go north for about a mile, temple on the left)

The South Florida Hindu Temple 13010 Griffin Road
Davie, Florida
954-438-3675 info@sfht.org

Hare Krishna Temple 3220 Virginia St. Coconut Grove, Florida 305-442-7218

SIKH: Plan to attend Sunday mornings at 10:00 a.m.

Sikh Society of Florida 16000 Sterling Rd. Pembroke Pines, Florida 954-680-0221

(Same directions as to Shiva Hindu Temple, but closer to Sheridan on Dykes Road)

JAIN

Jain Center of South Florida
1960 N. Commerce Parkway #11 Weston, FL 33326
Here is Direction Link for Jain center. http://jaincentersfl.com/direction.html

JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN

Synagogues: Friday evenings, near Sundown; and Saturday mornings, 8:00 a.m. only.
Christian churches: 11:00 a.m. morning service. Consult Yellow Pages for synagogue or church nearest where you live.

Students are encouraged to do detective work and find representatives of the other major world religions in Miami or the South Florida area: Taoism, Confucianism (Chinese), Shinto (Japanese), and Zoroastrianism (Persian/Iranian, and mostly in Bombay, India).

3 responses to “SITE VISIT

  1. For my site visit project, I decided to go to a Jewish synagogue called the Temple Hatikvah which is located at 183 NE 8th Street in Homestead (in case anybody else wants to visit). It was surprisingly easy for me to enter the temple. All I had to do in order to be able to enter was call them and explain that I wanted to observe a new religion and I had a little bit of an interest in theirs. They responded by saying that I can enter whenever I was ready to go and that they would have someone wait for me to show me around and teach me things about their religion such as their beliefs.
    When I first called the temple, I must admit that I was a little nervous because I had never called a temple before and I thought that they would deny me entry because I wasn’t Jewish. But as I was talking to them on the phone I slowly began to feel more at ease and talked to them as if they were someone I knew for a while. When I went to the temple they showed me around and I was surprised to find out that not only did they use the temple as a place to pray, they also used as a place that somebody can come to study. I was also given permission to attend a prayer on my second visit. At first I felt excluded from the crowd because I didn’t know anybody there. If I had to compare the feeling to something it would be as if I went to a new school and none of my friends were there. Fortunately, my feeling of exclusion ended when some of the people who regularly attended the prayers introduced themselves to me. They were all very kind to me and treated me as if I had attended that temple for years.
    During my time in the temple, they would tell me all that I would like to know about the religion such as its holidays, beliefs, etc. They were very good at explaining the things that I wanted to know for the religion and they explained it so well it made me feel like going to the temple week after week to try to learn more. Also, during my time attending the prayers I didn’t feel that my age and gender had excluded me from a ceremony. They were very open and to my point of view they didn’t seem to care at all about my age and gender. What I believe impacted me the most during my visit to the synagogue was that although there is a great difference between my religion and the Jewish religion I still felt compelled to learn as much as I can. To be honest, I thought that I would only be a little interested in the Jewish religion but still stick with my religion. But now that I have experienced this new religion my eyes have been open to try new things and to gain new experiences by visiting other religious temples/churches instead of just sticking to the same thing without giving the other religions a chance.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. For my site visit project I went to a Jewish synagogue. Honestly, I felt nervous when I arrived. As I approached the front door, I saw a sign stating that they were in prayer service and thus the door must remain closed. From the window I saw some elderly Jews covered in white mantles praying in loud voices. I didn’t want to interrupt their connection with God, so I waited outside until one of them saw me, and opened the door. He kindly greeted me, making me feel much better and took me to the Rabbi. I noticed the Rabbi was taking off his tefillin which consisted of two small boxes, one attached to his head while the other one was strapped on his right arm. He sent me to one of his members to speak with me. Though he seemed busy assembling books , he stopped what he was doing and we talked. I asked for his name and he answered, “Moshe Chakoff” and told me his name meant Moses. I found that fact interesting since Moses is a great figure from the bible and Torah.
    He handed me a card that stated the seven universal laws that one must follow and I noticed that the word God was written “G-d”. Moshe told me that they wrote “G-d” out of respect and that they would never write his name where it could easily be erased or discarded. The respect and admiration they have for God amazed me, it made me realize how much I lack in that quality in my own faith. I then asked Moshe why he wore a cap and he told me it was called a kippah and that it symbolized that God was above them. Moshe told me that he followed a regimen by praying three times a day. He told me that he would read the prayers from the scriptures but that he also cried out his own prayers. Then he told me “praying without intention is like a body without a soul”. These words pierced right through my heart, because it showed that even though we both have different religions we both value prayer and see it as something vital to connect with God. It made me connect more to him and realize that we both love and seek God but in a different way.
    As a Christian I was interested in what Moshe thought about Jesus and why he did not consider him as the Messiah. He pointed out prophecies he thought Jesus did not fulfill. Moshe also told me that there were many mistranslations in today’s bible, that the original text was written in Hebrew. This actually made me think about the authenticity of the bible I read. It also made me realize how different interpretations can lead to different religions as in our case. We talked for more than an hour and he even showed me some of his scriptures which were very similar to the first five books of the bible. Moshe gave me a lot of information on his beliefs. He kindly asked for my number and told me he would send me more information on his religion and that I could assist the Yom Kippur service the next day.
    I went early to the service and noticed women sitting on one side of the room while men were on the other side. Most of them were wearing white clothes which I assumed represented purity. I was dressed casual which made me feel mundane and very uncomfortable. Then I saw Moshe, I wanted to greet him but he was on the men’s side. I saw him go to the altar and recite from the Torah in Hebrew. We had to rise when the arc was opened and sit when it was closed. Then he began to sing in Hebrew. I never realized what a beautiful and mesmerizing language it was. The song was very soothing and made me feel less uncomfortable. I had to leave early, but ever since then I have been hearing Hebrew songs and am determined to learn the language. Moshe has even sent me his playlist. I found this to be one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. The fact that Moshe made me feel comfortable, and was friendly and took his time to speak with me showed me what a humble Jew he was. I truly have a desire to learn more about Judaism and I am planning to actually speak with my mom’s boss who I just found out is a Messianic Jew.

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  3. For my site visit, I went to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (shortened to LDS), also known as the Mormon religion. The LDS church is the most prominent denomination of Mormon religions whose aim is to restore the original gospel of Jesus Christ, according to teachings received by the prophet Joseph Smith. The meetinghouse I visited is located near the Miami-Dade College Kendall campus. It is a very small building compared to most churches in this area. The congregation, known as Sacrament meeting, is held on Sundays at 9:00am, was where I began my visit.
    As an outsider, I was very nervous about my first visit. I was accompanied by my mother who helped me ease in socially. Upon arrival, we were a few minutes late and the Sacrament meeting had just begun. Finding the chapel was difficult at first; the interior of the church is a narrow hallway that circuited around the chapel and cultural hall and there were many classrooms and offices surrounding the loop. This made the building feel crowded even though the halls were empty. The foyer had two couches where people could sit and hold a conversation. The exterior appeared simple; there were no crosses or statues of religious icons typically associated with Christianity. However, the walls along the corridor inside were decorated with portraits of Jesus Christ as well as depictions of Joseph Smith’s spiritual experiences.
    Inside the chapel, there were rows of seats as seen in many Christian churches. It was more spacious than other areas within the church. We were greeted by a woman at the door of the chapel who gave us a printed handout describing what would occur during the Sacrament and events for the month. While parking outside was easy to find, many of the seats inside the chapel were occupied. A majority of the families attending had at least four children, which was surprising because having such large families is socially and economically discouraged by mainstream cultural norms. Men were dressed in suits while women wore skirts or dresses. Since I unknowingly did not conform to the women’s dress code, I felt even more like a stranger.
    At the front of the chapel was a podium elevated from the rest of the chapel, and behind it several rows of elevated seats reserved for the authoritative figures of the church, such as bishops and men entering the priesthood. It is important to note that women are not allowed positions of authority such as bishop or priest. Women are only allowed lower positions such as becoming missionaries or teaching biblical studies.
    The Sacrament meeting lasted for an hour and fifteen minutes and went as follows: An opening hymn was sung, followed by the Sacrament where priesthood members blessed bread and water and handed it out to the congregation during a moment of silence and prayer. After the Sacrament, a vote was held on electing a new teacher to provide scripture studies. Then, another hymn was sung, and various members provided their testimony that this church is true. Finally, the Sacrament was concluded by a closing hymn.
    A pair of young adult missionary women, known as Sisters, greeted us and referred us to the biblical study that was held immediately after Sacrament. This meeting was for women only, as men were sent to a different room. The study primarily emphasized Mormon scriptures. At the end, a video by one of the presidents of the church was displayed. The take home message of that scripture study was that our purpose as human beings is to have large families and spread the gospel as it is taught by the LDS church.
    This site visit had a profound impact on my world view. Most of my awareness of the society I live in depended on the culture I was raised in at home, my interactions with peers at school, and observing the behaviors of people in public as well as in media. I learned that there exist people in my age group who accept views that mainstream western culture has labeled as outdated, and yet are able to find closeness spiritually and with one another.

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