Guest speaker addresses how love can help create change


GVL / Sydney Lim

Zoë Murphy and Omari Seaberry, Staff Writer

On Feb. 23, Grand Valley State University Kaufman Interfaith Institute hosted an event called “See No Stranger: An Evening with Valarie Kaur.”

Kaur is a civil rights leader and lawyer, award-winning filmmaker, educator and best-selling author. During and after her keynote speech, she spoke about her best-selling memoir “See No Stranger,” which focuses on using love as a force for social justice and change throughout the world.

Kaur said she teaches strategies to practice love in a world “filled with hate” by using phrases like “breath and push” and inventing concepts like “revolutionary love compass.”

Kaur engaged with her audience by opening the lecture with a call for the audience to take a deep breath and engage in visualization practices. She then connected with the audience by sharing her personal experiences with loss, grief and forgiveness.

“Forgiveness is not forgetting, forgiveness is freedom from hate,” Kaur said.

Program Coordinator of the Kaufman Interfaith Institute, Liz English, helps to set up many events for the institute. Her first event as a full-time program coordinator was a concert by two international musical groups on campus. Since then, she has continued to have a major leadership role in these events, especially “behind the scenes of Kaufman.” 

“It is a little bit of just making sure the gears are running smoothly, from talking to our various speakers that we are going to have, to just making sure people are in the right place at the right time,” English said.

Kaur’s keynote is part of GVSU’s “Talking Together” initiative. This series of events are sponsored by the Padnos/Sarosik Center of Civil Discourse, Kaufman Interfaith Institute, the Howenstein Center of Presidential Studies and WGVU Public Media.

This was Kaur’s first time visiting GVSU and English said she was a great fit to be featured in the series.

“Valarie’s name just had come up within our circles as kind of a dream speaker to have come to campus because she is so engaging and she really does cross the line of our various institutions very well,” English said.