The interfaith Summit on November 16, 2017 looked to intertwine various individuals of a wide array of religious backgrounds.
There, in a small complex located in Shadwell, these individuals coalesced into a mass in order to engage with each other and participate in numerous workshops in order to broaden their horizons on beliefs and ideologies slightly different from their own.
Among the group of individuals gathered at the summit were four journalists from the social enterprise, You Press.
As they waddled their way through the complex waiting for the summit to commence, Christian, the journalist from America, was approached by a rather frail and sweetly smiled elderly lady.
“Excuse me, young man…” the elderly lady snickered gently to Christian, “I noticed your name is Christian, are you actually a devout follower in Christianity?”
Nervous and unsure what to say, Christian calmly turned to her and replied softly, “Actually miss, I’m not. I’m an agnostic.”
“Well you’re going straight to hell.” She shot back and proceeded to walk away without missing a beat.
A bit shocked from what he had just heard, Christian turns to the other journalists only to see half of them stifling their laughs while the other half turned their attention to the main stage as the summit began to commence.
The summit begins with three different workshops occuring throughout the complex.
In one area, Hana, You press’ journalist from Japan, observed MUJU, a group of individuals that take pride in bringing Muslims and Jews together through creative arts, take a look into the subconscious ideologies of individuals and its connection with race and faith.
However, in order to do this, MUJU settled the atmosphere into a more friendly onset through a few theatrical games such as Zip-zap, a game where Hana thrived at.
Following Zip-zap, MUJU looked to tap into the subconscious preconceptions about gender and race by having the audience create scenarios based on situations of trouble that is caused by discrimination.
MUJU demonstrated the possibility of intervention in conflict which is caused by differences between individuals.
But the gist of the session focuses around the requirement into intervening in conflict.
Actions against discrimination is important but, what Hana learned and believes, action requires bravery and confidence and the session with MUJU has allowed a step forward of progress towards growth in those areas.
Whilst Hana engaged with MUJU, Christian explored a workshop in a room located all the way across the complex with a group of young individuals by the name of Amplify, whose mission is to empower young individuals and give them a voice through art and religion.
The room was filled with dozens of devout believers of numerous religions who filled the room with chatter and laughter about different traditions and religious experiences…and then there was Christian.
There he stood, an agnostic American, awkwardly present in the middle of the room like the unknown hole that takes up the center of a doughnut, kind of just there as one would eat around it to enjoy the sugary treat.
Christian observed as members of Amplify mingled with the people around him.
But even though he had an awkward beginning, Christian soon connected with Amplify as he saw some connections between them and You Press.
Both groups strive to fulfill their mission of empowering young individuals and giving them a place to voice their story.
At the conclusion of Amplify’s workshop, they presented the audience with a video of their manifesto.
A powerful statement that looks to empower the youth and forward their mission, Amplify’s manifesto seemed to resonate above just their workshop.
The Interfaith Summit, as a whole, held undertones of a certain aspect of respect amongst diversity.
This respect can be seen in every conversation around the complex.
No matter how diverse the audience is, they are unified through conversation, a desire to gain more knowledge about other people, and the notion that everyone’s voice is equally as important as their own.
“You will listen because my voice matters.”
Written by Hana Fukui & Christian Marquez