Hindu Students Association Suggests How America Can Be "Better Together"
In 1964 the Civil Rights Movement forced Americans to answer the question: What if people of different races and skin colors came together to form a better America...
|In 1964 the Civil Rights Movement forced Americans to answer the question: What if people of different races and skin colors came together to form a better America? Today, we face a similar question: What if people of different faiths, religious backgrounds and beliefs came together to form a better America? What if we learn to accept different faiths and work towards building a stronger community? What if we dispel ignorant myths to keep fear and irrationality at bay? By initiating cross-cultural community service activities on college campuses, the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) aims to channel the passion and energy of young students to build a diverse, peaceful and better America along the lines of religious pluralism. Promoting seva (selfless community service) and interfaith dialogue have been two important goals of the Hindu Students Association (HSA). As members of HSA, Kushal Mehta and Kavita Pallod have always been looking to work with people from other faiths to promote community service. The Interfaith Youth Leadership Institute, an event sponsored by the White House and IFYC, and held in Washington, DC, gave them the perfect opportunity to represent the voice of Hindu students in a national movement. Pallod, a senior at the University of Texas at Austin (UT), and Executive Branch President of HSA, joined 150 students from around the country in training sessions, while Mehta, a graduate student at University of Arizona (UA) and Chief Technology Officer of HSA, joined the staff and faculty track of the event.|
Though the Hindu American community is growing, the voice of young Hindus is not adequately represented in large national movements. HSA creates young Hindu leaders equipped with the necessary knowledge and leadership skills to represent the voice of young students, and to promote community service projects at both the intra-campus and inter-campus levels. HSA aims to raise awareness of Hindu traditions in order to build an American society that is more aware and reflective of the needs of young Hindus. Mehta and Pallod's representation at the IFYC's event accomplished this goal. They were able to connect to religious leaders across the nation, while bringing home the training that will help them create interfaith service activities at their campuses.
The students' training sessions gave them the skills to create a service campaign at their campuses highlighting the tag line that we are "Better Together", while the staff and faculty training taught them how to obtain support from the university and community at large. Thus, with an effective collaboration between the students, faculty and staff, a community service based interfaith movement can be launched. The success of this event proves that with effective collaboration between the students, faculty and staff, a community service based interfaith movement can be launched from college campuses. An inspirational session hosted at the White House by Eboo Patel, member of President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships and Executive Director of the IFYC, moved all the attendees to take the initiative home to their campuses. While Pallod hopes to work with the Interfaith Dialogue Initiative at UT to create a multi-faith prayer space to launch interfaith activities, Mehta aims to start a community service based Hindu organization by working with the Interfaith Learning Center at UA.
Mehta and Pallod are leading community service efforts to help the community at large by inspiring their peers at their college campuses. They are also working on creating cross-college initiatives for interfaith based community service projects, thereby pushing for the interfaith movement that is sweeping college campuses.
Source: [ www.2classnotes.com ]
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