Tuesday, July 19, 2011


"Being different is what makes us the same"

When professor Mark Allman talked to me about IFYI, I wasn't interested at all. I thought about how difficult it would be to take a week off of work, plus I couldn't think of any way IFYI would help me accomplish my dream of becoming a doctor. Some how last minute I changed my mind, and decided to sign up for the program. My friends Neha Patel and Chelsea Comfort signed up too, so I kind of got excited just to hang out with them for the entire week.
After arriving at the program it seemed like the people already knew me because of how they were so welcoming and friendly. I started feeling comfortable and enthusiastic about what I was about to experience. During the program we visited multiple place which included; farm, Harvard art museum, mosque, shabbat service, Garden of peace etc. The place that impacted me the most was the Garden of Peace, which had stones engraved with names of people whose lives where brutally taken from them. It reminded me of the Rwanda Genocide where so many people including my loved ones lost their lives. I couldn't stop thinking about all the violence that was taking place in the world, but at that same exact moment I thought about my IFYI group. It was amazing how people of different religions/races lived together in one place without any violence or prejudice. We all decided to put our differences aside and work together for peace in our hearts, families and communities. I developed a sense of hope that one day the world would be like my IFYI group, different but living together in peace.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bringing It Home

As our week at IFYI is nearing an end, we held a workshop to talk about the ways we want to bring the experiences we've learned back to our college campus/communities. We spent a lot of time reflecting upon the events and conversations we've had this week. In conclusion, we are considering to organize an Interfaith Festival as a possible idea. Later this evening, we rehearsed our parts in the Final Celebration Ceremony to be held tomorrow before we leave. All of the groups are excited to speak, sing, dance, and show the art that we have been diligently working on all week. Anyone is welcome and encouraged to attend this meaningful event to conclude the week.

Understanding Faith through Religious Services

Members of the group get ready for an eventful day Friday.

We all got dressed up to attend a sermon at a Mosque in Wayland, MA, which gave the non-Muslims a chance to witness the experience of a different faith's worship. The women covered their hair with scarves to show modesty, and everyone removed their shoes upon entering, as the Muslim Mosque requires. The Mosque sermon, which lasted about 40 minutes, was very serious and professional. Later that day, we attended Shabbat services at Brandeis University and dinner to celebrate the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath on Friday at sundown. We had the choice to attend a traditional service, orthodox service, or a reform service. The traditional and orthodox were completely in Hebrew, and the reform was in Hebrew but with some English. Anna, Neha, and Chelsea attended the reform service. We found it very welcoming, spirtually fun, and energetic with music/singing. Seeing these religious services helped us gain a deeper understanding of other faiths.

See the World, be the Change

On Thursday we had the awesome experience of doing an Interfaith Walk for Peace, Justice, and the Environment. It was an amazing chance to voice our passion for these three hot topics in the world today. We made posters, read poems, sang songs, and various other art forms and then presented them in our affinity groups at each of the four sites on the walk. The sites that were represented were Boston Common, the Mary Dyer Statue, the African American History Museum, and The City Hall Plaza. Each stop had a significance on the walk and allowed us a venue to share our presentation on a specific topic, such as religious intolerance. We talked about men and women that had died for their faith, and also saw engraved stones in the Garden of Peace Memorial for homicide victims in Massachusetts. After the walk we had some free time to spend in Boston, giving us a chance to unwind and relax with friends.

Justice, Peace, and Environment in the World House

On Wednesday July 13, we enjoyed two workshops: "building a spiritual & interfaith identity" led by Tilda Cantwell, and "peacemaking & leadership skills." We also walked to the edge of Brandeis' campus to embark on a journey through nature in the woods, while it also happened to be raining. We were challenged to put the uncomfortable weather behind us and focus on a meditative walk through a mysterious wooded path. This exercise helped us connect with nature because our environment is a key component of this "World House" that we are highly responsible to take care of. We finished the day with a celebration of ice cream, and dancing around to an IFYI program leader's live guitar playing.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

B O S T O N !

Christo, Carissa, Jon, Chelsea, Neha, Anna, and Casey walking through Boston after the Interfaith Walk for Peace and Justice, and visiting the church for an uplifting mass.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Exploring Faith through Art and Service

Today, Tuesday, our theme is "service." We displayed this theme by providing service in a variety of ways, both physically and mentally.

The high school students split into two groups:
One team visited a bookstore warehouse where they helped to paint and refresh the building.
The other team provided service at a local farm, helping to pull weeds and take care of vegetables.
The college students went into Cambridge, MA, where we found meaning in the historical and modern art at the Harvard Art Museum. One piece of artwork is pictured above, as it depicts interfaith and mixed cultures. We also walked to the facility at which The Pluralism Project is being worked on. We looked at a case study regarding religious decorative expression in an airport during the holiday season. It was interesting to hear each others' opinions and discuss about the possible ways to solve a conflict like this.
The college students also got to meet and listen to a man talk about faith during the Civil Rights Movement and marching with Martin Luther King Jr. To conclude the day, during our evening circle, we reflected upon our various forms of service that we provided today.
Some topics include:
-Learning new things
-Appreciation and interpretation of art
-Teamwork and dedication to the task
-Discussing and working to solve religious conflict issues