"Faith in Conversation": Sustained Interfaith Dialogue at the Student Level
By: Aamir Hussain
October 18, 2011
Faith in Conversation (FIC) is a pilot interfaith dialogue program for students sponsored by the GU Student Interfaith Council. This program emphasizes sharing personal experiences, appreciating differences, and asking tough questions. I am excited for FIC because it offers opportunities for me to not only learn about others, but to also experience spiritual growth in my own Muslim faith.
I believe that student-sponsored interreligious dialogue is vital because it is Georgetown's logical next step forward. Our university already does an admirable job of integrating interfaith dialogue into our campus institutions, such as Campus Ministry, the President's Office, and Student Affairs. By making this a student-directed effort, we want to show the Georgetown community that the enthusiasm for interfaith understanding exists, and even originates at the student level.
Through FIC, we want to provide an avenue for those enthusiastic about interfaith dialogue to explore this passion with other students. Indeed, one of our goals is to start at the grassroots level with interfaith conversations, and hold them in small, informal groups of 2-3 students. In addition, we are trying to encourage students who may be at different comfort levels regarding spirituality/religion to challenge themselves and engage in these conversations. In my experience, students are more willing to take risks and challenge themselves in interactions with other students.
In addition, Faith in Conversation is designed to be a place where students can learn about the similarities and especially, differences between faith traditions. Too often, interfaith dialogue ends up being about building consensus, and while the concept of religious similarities is a solid foundation, talking ONLY about similarities avoids discussion about important issues. By creating this space and facilitating these dialogues, we want participants to gain a better understanding of their own beliefs, how those beliefs intersect (or don't intersect) with those of others, and the implications of those realizations.