Eboo Patel, an Indian American and former member of President Barack Obama’s inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships, has founded the Interfaith Youth Core, which hosted the Interfaith Leadership Institute in Chicago from August 3 to 5.
According to their mission statement, the Interfaith Youth Core “partners with colleges and universities working to turn religious diversity into a positive force in our society” and “the Interfaith Leadership Institute (ILI) is the largest gathering of students and educators with a commitment to American religious pluralism. Over the course of three days, participants learn to bridge divides and forge friendships across lines of religious and worldview differences,” the organization said.
Patel told the National Catholic Reporter that he participated in nearly 150 campus delegations this year.
Students and educators from around the country gathered at the conference to share their stories, build relationships with people of different backgrounds, and equip themselves with the skill set needed to lead interfaith conversations in the future, for the good of their religious communities and the world.
New students were given the option between Storytelling for Interfaith Cooperation and Foundations of Interfaith Leadership, while advanced students had the options of choosing either Tackling Challenging Conversations or Interfaith Beyond Graduation.
Those who attended the conference and shared their personal faith stories were able to find common ground and understanding for each other’s religions.
This is what Interfaith Youth Core believes in, according to their website:
“According to social science research, relationships, positive attitudes and appreciative knowledge are closely related to each other such that an increase in one leads to an increase in the others. If you know some accurate and positive things about a religion, and you know some people from that religion, you are far more likely to have positive attitudes towards that tradition and that community.”