Inspired by international interfaith

By Joshua Dresner, November 11, 2010

Last month I was part of the British delegation attending the Inter Faith Youth Core (IFYC) Campus Leadership Institute conference held at Georgetown University in Washington.

For three days we talked, learnt, played and strategised interfaith. The 150 student and chaplain participants came from around the world and were selected from more than 500 applicants.

We were educated about past interfaith initiatives, when Islamic and Jewish societies have fasted together or fed the homeless, heard from a student who had organised a food-packing drive that made one million meals in one weekend for Haiti and watched videos of counter-protests organised by interfaith committees against hate speakers and extremist protestors.

The experience was both inspiring and thought-provoking.

In Britain our interfaith work is more serious, philosophical and, well, bold. We ask big questions and expect deep religious knowledge for active involvement. This is far too elitist and uninviting for the average student.

The IFYC model promotes shared values and volunteering to bring people into situations where they build strong personal relationships. The message of the conference was "Better Together" which smartly says that we can all work as separate groups doing local and international volunteering, but both in a practical sense to achieve more, and to improve the reputation of religion in the eyes of the secular masses, we are all better working in collaboration.

Joshua runs the Faithworks programme at Manchester University Student Union

Last updated: 10:24am, September 14 2011