Archive for February, 2011

My Interfaith Stepping Stones

Posted: February 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

This article was written by Jenn Meadows, a freshman at the University of Indianapolis.  As well as being integrally involved with PRSSA and UMSA, Jenn is also a member of the Interfaith Forum.

Hello, my name is Jenn and as a freshman at the University of Indianapolis, I find my involvement in Interfaith Forum very important because on campus we are exposed to many people of different beliefs and cultures. I am personally a United Methodist, but I have always had an interest in world religions. In my church, we had a foreign-exchange student from Thailand that attended our services. Through Fhang, I learned about the Buddhist way of practice. Coming from a small town, I had never known any other religion outside of Christianity. Over my junior year, I learned a lot from Fhang. I began to respect my own culture and religion. I also began to see the importance of how crucial it was for all humans, no matter what their race or religion, to come together to serve a common cause. Fhang and I did many community projects together through my church and other local community organizations. Coming to UIndy, I was thrilled to see that this opportunity existed for me to participate in. No matter what religion you are, we are all human. With technological advances, our world is becoming even smaller. Therefore, we are more connected then we have ever been before. This can help our generation move forward in the wake of new challenges. We can connect across the board easily. With opportunities such as Interfaith Forum, we have the chance to put aside our religious differences and strive for our common goal of goodwill for human kind. Interfaith is a stepping stone for all to learn about our differences and embrace one another and move forward to really making a difference in this world together.

Different Faiths, United Week

Posted: February 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

This blog post was written by Anu Kalpathi, a Hindu student from India in the graduate physical therapy program at UIndy.

I was asked to write about my one week experience as a volunteer for the Appalachia Service Project at Jonesville, VA, quite some time back. I might have sat to pen it down only today, but I have been thinking about it for days together, every spare moment – trying to recapture that golden week, that was lush with beautiful memories, laughter, the beginning of many friendships and so much more.

I remember the day we left –

Half past six on a dark Sunday morning found me standing on my porch sipping hot coffee, my  numb fingers, wrapped around the warm mug, trying to steal some warmth and willing myself to be calm my qualms. “It won’t be that bad”, I consoled myself. I was excited about the trip, about its purpose, and that I finally felt like I was doing something meaningful. But somehow, that was not sufficient to allay my fears and anxiety about the unknown.

However, as soon as I met the other students and we began our journey, I started enjoying myself. The week that ensued was truly blissful. Our team got the opportunity of working on the construction of a wheelchair ramp for a lovely couple. George and Debra had a nice home, situated on a small hill. Do not mistake them for a lonely couple, though. They had plenty of company, in the form of 5 puppies, a spider, a horse, hens, even a flying squirrel! But what really touched me was that, almost all these animals had been left stranded without a home and would have been orphaned if not for these two amazing people. George and Debra may not be rich enough to afford a big home and the luxuries that surround it, but they definitely had big and warm hearts to make a home for all that wandered in, literally. There is much to learn from this couple, who were so hospitable and welcoming, that we felt right at home.

Something that I still reflect upon with wonder is the camaraderie that we all developed and shared with one another. We were but strangers who had met a week before, but by the end of the week, there was a very strong bond which united all of us.

There was something else that had an impact on me on this trip – the devotion service and prayers every morning and night. I am a Hindu, and I found myself drawing several parallels between Christianity and Hinduism. I was driven to think in depth after this. Does it matter what faith we are from? What race or culture we belong to? If we are white, black or brown? What brought such a diverse group together during that one week in the Appalachians was not that we were from the University, or that we were students. It was the fact that, we all had faith – albeit different. We had faith and the belief that we could make a difference; the want to do something good and to try and make someone’s life better.  I am sure all of us there had different reasons for being there, different motivations driving us – ultimately, it is the work we do that counts and makes a difference.

Anu Kalpathi

 

 

Dear Potential World-Changer

Posted: February 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

Dear Potential World-Changer,

When the comedian Brian O’Sullivan visited the University of Indianapolis, one of the greatest musical hits that he played during the night was called “I’m a WASP,” a parody of the famous Black Eyed Peas song called “Imma Be.”  Throughout the entirety of the song, O’Sullivan listed many of the stereotypes involving WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants), the most populous group in the United States.  While the majority of Americans are still WASPs, there is an increasing diversity, both racial and religious, that one cannot ignore.  When 48% of Los Angeles County is Hispanic and millions of Muslims inhabit this country, WASPs are not alone anymore.

I am a male WASP.  From prior understandings of power in America, I would be at the plateau.  While gender equality is slowly becoming a reality, the pay scale between men and women continues in inequality.  While racial equality is slowly becoming a reality, prejudice and stereotypes continue to cause discrimination.  While I rarely contemplate the nature of my privileges, I will not deny the fact that some of my success may be attributed to my status as a male WASP.  Frankly, I have never known the sting of discrimination based on my identity.

I recently returned from my last training conference with Interfaith Youth Core.  For the second time, I loved the experience.  My co-workers are AMAZING!!!  To use an Indiana euphemism, I had too many meaningful conversation than I could shake a stick at.  After attending the conference, I feel refreshed and re-energized to continue the interfaith work at the University of Indianapolis.

One of the exercises near the end of the conference asked everyone to write a letter that showed the impact of the conference on their life and their plan for the next few months.  Upon reflection, I noticed an important point that I had never realized before.  I am a male WASP.  None of the people in my cohort are.  The Fellows Alliance is comprised of 16 women and 3 men.  The majority of the group is not Protestant.  Why had I never noticed before?  I soon realized that I never felt uncomfortable.  During the entire time that I met my co-workers in Chicago, we became friends, and our racial and religious background never divided us.  I was in the minority for the first time in my life, and I was completely clueless.

Can you imagine a world like the community that I found in the Fellows Alliance?  Does it not sound like the world that Martin Luther King Jr. envisioned?  Does it not sound like the world that Mahatma Gandhi envisioned?  Does it not sound like the world that Eboo Patel envisions?  After meeting my co-workers, and friends, through the Interfaith Youth Core, I know that I will never be the same.  At the University of Indianapolis, help my fellow interfaith leaders and I create this type of community, so that we can shine as a city on a hill for the world to strive for.

 

Your friend,

Mark Wolfe

Interfaith Youth Core Fellows Alliance 2010-2011

President of the Interfaith Forum