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Posted on September 25, 2014 - By Ali Jablonsky
Leaders must experience the mountaintop so that they can advocate for it. I believe interfaith leaders can only be effective if they truly experience the deep value of diversity.

Ali is a 2013-2014 IFYC Coach. She recently graduated from Cardinal Stritch University with majors in Secondary Education and English and a minor in Communications. As a Unitarian Universalist Franciscan, Ali is constantly seeking to learn from various religious and nonreligious communities. Ali believes she has found the utopia for this exploration at Harvard Divinity School, where she will be attending this fall as she pursues a Master’s in Divinity.

Posted on September 11, 2014 - By Anusha Abbas
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, I felt as if I had to sacrifice my Muslim identity in order to fit in as an American. But I could not be more wrong. It is through being a Muslim American that I have learned to embrace people of all beliefs.

Anusha Abbas is a senior Biology major and Family Studies minor at Arizona State University. Born in Pakistan, raised in America, and coming from a minority sect in Islam, she uses her passion for human rights to find common ground between her diverse identities. Anusha holds leadership positions in Students for a Humanity Inspired by Ahlulbayt (S.H.I.A.), Sun Devils are Better Together, and Oxfam America at ASU. Having experience being marginalized as a minority, Anusha learned to embrace her beliefs and become an advocate for unity and interfaith cooperation to end religious intolerance.

Posted on September 4, 2014 - By Megan Lane
When the irreconcilable differences inherent to interfaith cooperation pop up, be brave enough to keep talking.

Megan Lane, Campus Engagement Associate, holds a B.A. in Philosophy & Religion from Appalachian State University, in addition to an M.A. in Religion from the University of Georgia. After setting aside her original intention to pursue a Ph. D in religious studies, she worked in Campus Activities while earning an M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from NC State University. As a graduate assistant, she advised and trained the executive officers of around 600 student organizations in best practices for leadership.

Posted on August 14, 2014 - By Aisha Ansano
We can “no longer afford to remain cloistered in the so-called comfort of like-minded people.” Too many people have strongly held beliefs that affect their actions, and pretending that the world is only full of people like us leads to a lot of conflict.

Aisha Ansano is a second year Masters of Divinity student at Harvard Divinity School, studying Unitarian Universalism and considering ordination. Aisha attended an Interfaith Youth Core conference in 2010, and continued interfaith work in college with the Stanford Office of Religious Life as well as at Harvard Divinity School. She is fascinated by lived religion and how people conceive of their religious and spiritual identities.

Posted on August 1, 2014 - By Prerna Abbi
Something that may have started out as appreciation and borrowing can become appropriation when the borrower doesn’t talk about the history, reason, or general awesomeness of whatever it is they are trying to replicate.

After earning her BA from The Maxwell School at Syracuse University, Prerna served as an AmeriCorps member with Habitat for Humanity, organizing faith communities and students around affordable housing. Now Prerna spends her days as Alumni Relations Associate at IFYC, supporting alumni leaders’ personal and professional work to grow interfaith cooperation. She spends most of her free time listening to nerdy podcasts, trying her hand at all of the recipes and crafts she’s pinned, and getting excited about intersectionality, feminism, and LGBTQ issues.

Posted on July 23, 2014 - By Avi Smolen
Jews and Muslims fasted in solidarity with each other to show our similarities and shared commitment to peace. The physical discomfort of fasting was a constant reminder throughout the day of the violence and fear in Israel/Palestine.

Avi Smolen works as Communications Manager for Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, a domestic social justice organization, in New York, where he manages the website, e-mail campaigns, and social media. He previously worked as Development and Communications Associate in the New York office of Keren Or, a Center in Jerusalem for blind and multi-disabled children and young adults.

Posted on June 12, 2014 - By Samantha Nichols
The idea that someone from my new community had targeted the Jewish population in my old community was very troubling, but it also motivated me to redefine the relationship between both communities, to provide a compassionate response.

Samantha Nichols is a senior at Missouri State University, majoring in religious studies. Samantha was top speaker at the 2011 NFL National Debate Tournament and believes she can use her public speaking skills to advance the interfaith movement on her campus. Samantha is currently serving as a pastoral intern at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ and a peer minister for an ecumenical campus ministry with plans to attend seminary once she graduates from MSU.

Posted on June 5, 2014 - By Zachary Cole
By bringing diverse groups of people together to participate in a joint service experience, we promoted interfaith cooperation, highlighted shared values, & started to build a foundation for productive conversations about real differences.

Zachary earned his bachelor’s in religious studies and political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also holds a MA in Higher Education Administration from Boston College. While working towards his masters Zachary worked as a graduate assistant for the Lynch School of Education in the Department of Educational Leadership and Higher Education at Boston College and as the graduate assistant for student life for the Office of Student Life at the Harvard Divinity School.

Posted on May 29, 2014 - By Benjamin Marcus
At its best, religious literacy education develops the wisdom to see why Americans should not understand religions as monoliths and how they can productively engage with religiously diverse communities to encourage active pluralism.

Benjamin Marcus is an MTS candidate and Presidential Scholar at Harvard Divinity School pursuing a concentration in Religion, Ethics, and Politics. Formerly, Marcus studied religion at the University of Cambridge and Brown University where he graduated magna cum laude with honors. His research examines the intersection of religious literacy and religious identity formation and perception in the United States. Marcus develops religious literacy coursework for universities, U.S. government organizations, and nonprofits. Born and raised in Chicago, he currently lives in Somerville, MA.

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