Thursday, November 5, 2009

As many of you know, Adah and I recently attended and participated in the amazing Interfaith Youth Core's Conference at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL- a small town/suburb just north of Chicago alongside Lake Michigan. I represented Children at the Well in a panel discussion about interfaith programs designed for young people in middle school and/or high school.

We were among more than 650 people of every conceivable faith who came from all parts of the world. Many were college age, and a few were high schoolers. 51 young people were Scholars who had been awarded a full scholarship to come to the conference and learn together about becoming interfaith leaders.

Conference workshops were offered on a variety of philosophical, practical, and inspirational topics, such as:
"Listen Up! Building a Better World with Web-Based Video"
"Tools for Dialogue: New Approaches to Interfaith Education"
"From Obama's Cairo Speech to Action: A Discussion of Interfaith Initiatives in the Obama Administration"
"Interfaith Leadership for International Religious Freedom"
...and that was just a few of the offerings the first day!

There were 2 or 3 major keynote events each day with very influential and inspirational speakers. Eboo Patel, the head of Interfaith Youth Core, held a "conversation" with Reverend
Jim Wallis, a nationally known Evangelical theologian and author. There were White House staffers, the heads of national religious organizations, and on and on. You would think these talks might be dry and put you to sleep. Nothing could be further from the reality of it- one talk was better than the next, and kept the audience enthralled.
Many of signed up to do a service activity at the tail end of the conference. I spent an afternoon in the kitchen of a homeless shelter in Evanston (see photo above), learning about how the shelter serves people, baking pumpkin muffins and cookies, and cleaning out a fridge. All while having great conversations with my fellow workers- who included a young Muslim youth worker/college student from London, a Muslim theologian from Holland, an Orthodox rabbinic student from Los Angeles, a Unitarian Universalist seminarian from Florida and a Catholic college student studying interfaith and international affairs.
We left Evanston with full hearts and hope for the future of the world.
Here is a link to an IFYC conference follow up:

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