|Nadeem Modan ‘10
and Adina Teibloom ‘10 attended interactive workshops, panel conversations
with leading think tanks and foundations at the Interfaith Youth Conference
Oct. 28-30 in Chicago, Ill. They are sharing what they have learned with
their Wesleyan peers.
Students Promote Campus-Wide Religious Pluralism
Two Wesleyan sophomores met with renowned
religious scholars, interfaith activists and peers from around the world
recently to promote peaceful relations between different religious groups.
Nadeem Modan ‘10, who is Muslim, and Adina Teibloom ‘10, who is Jewish,
attended interactive workshops, panel conversations with leading think tanks
and foundations, and an interfaith concert at the Interfaith Youth
Conference Oct. 28-30 in Chicago, Ill. This year’s conference was titled
“Crossing the Faith Line.”
Modan, an active member of Wesleyan’s Interfaith Justice League and the
Advisory Committee for Spiritual and Religious Life, attended the conference
to discover methods to encourage further religious pluralism at Wesleyan.
He’s also striving to develop a Middle Eastern Studies Program at Wesleyan,
where is planning to major in pre-med and religion.
“Many of us grapple with the same problems: How do we create a safe space in
which people feel comfortable enough to share their beliefs? How do we guide
a discussion in which authenticity is not lost while trying to maintain
community? And how do we deal with the elephant in the corner that is the
Middle East?,” Modan says. “By attending this conference, I was able to get
answers to these questions, all of which will help in working towards
religious pluralism on campus and beyond.”
Modan says Wesleyan, which prides itself on its diverse student body, often
excludes religion as a form of diversity.
"’Unless you're like me, unless you believe this, unless you don't believe
that, you are wrong.’ This attitude is still very prevalent at Wesleyan, and
it is espoused not only by those who identify as religious, but arguably
even more so by those who don't,” Modan says.
At the conference, Modan and Teibloom had the opportunity to participate in
dozens of workshops, led by spiritual leaders from around the country.
Topics included Youth as Leaders in the Interfaith Movement; the Relevance
of Religion in 21st Century Curriculum; Faith, Democracy, Jazz: The
Applications of Universal Language Skills; Baha’i Faith; Enhancing U.S. -
Muslim Relations on Campus; Evangelical Christianity; Creating Interfaith
Dialogue on College Campuses; Deepening Interfaith Service Learning Through
the Arts; Addressing the Arab-Israeli Conflict in Interfaith Dialogue;
Fostering Mentoring Communities Through Interfaith Service Learning; among
many other topics.
This was Teibloom’s second year attending the interfaith conference. She has
worked with the organization for five years, and was invited to facilitating
a brainstorming session about how to be an effective interfaith leader on
campus. She also wrote a pamphlet about the Days of Interfaith Youth
Service, which was widely distributed.
Teibloom, who is planning to major in religion, hopes to begin a summer
program for students in high school and college to experience religious
diversity and work together toward common action. She wants to pilot the
program at Wesleyan.
“Our campus lends itself to interfaith work because it is an accepting
environment to begin with,” Teibloom says. “I hope that an interfaith
culture can be started on this campus and become a tradition that will
continue even after I have graduated. If we can come to understand each
other across difference perhaps we can begin to consider ending these
conflicts with fair, peaceful solutions.”
Modan and Teibloom attended several talks by featured speakers such as Eboo
Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core; Umar Faruq Abd-Allah, chair and
scholar-in-residence at the Nawawi Foundation; Sally Mahe, director of
Organizational Development for the United Religions Initiative; Ji Hyang
Sunim, Buddhist advisor at Wellesley College; Eliyahu McLean, director of
Jerusalem Peacemakers; Sally Quinn, editor of the Washington Post; among
Participants also attended a networking dinner, interfaith concert, a
screening of “Encounter Point,” featuring a Q&A with director Ronit Avni of
Just Vision; and the 2007 Days of Interfaith Youth Service Awards Banquet.
“I see religious pluralism as a way of life,” Teibloom says. “It’s a place
where everyone is constantly striving to understand and empathize with
people of all different moral and religious traditions. For me, pluralism is
more than the existence of diversity but the dedication to encounter it with
openness and acceptance at every moment.”
By Olivia Bartlett, Wesleyan Connection editor