What To Do With A Call To Action – The President’s Interfaith and Service Challenge Conference

by Kalilah Jamall, Student Assistant

Have you seen the latest Facebook update? On the individual pages you host, you can submit a “Call To Action” through Facebook. To quote, this feature “brings a [page’s] most important objective to the forefront of its Facebook presence…call-to-action buttons link to any destination on or off Facebook that aligns with a [page’s] goals.” My presence in the Interfaith movement can be described as such. Throughout my time at the Interfaith Center, I have perfected the art of engaging in civil discourse. I have gained knowledge about others that surpass the academic – I have a crucial, empathic understanding of those around me one simply cannot achieve in the classroom alone. I use these skills to help others, and mobilize my campus through various educational and service projects. Like Facebook, I have my list of important objectives; now I want to popularize these objectives on my campus. I want civil discourse to be an everyday conversational tone. I want us to acknowledge how our beliefs influence our actions and how that doesn’t have to scare us. But unlike Facebook, I do not have a “Call To Action” button I can push. I cannot automatically link my personal objectives to designated areas. Instead, I have the “The President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge” which I will get too later. But this is no consolation prize. The President’s Challenge was a way for me to have an actual call to action – and it was one of the most rewarding conferences I’ve been to in my undergraduate experience so far.

To quote, the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge is an “initiative inviting institutions of higher education to commit to a year of interfaith and community service programming on campus” according to the Interfaith Youth Core. The conference, a two-day ordeal in September in Washington, D.C., was a way for the different institutions to come together and talk about what they’ve done as it relates to the challenge. Even better, it allows for actual students to have a voice in the panels and workshops on interfaith cooperation. A challenge senior like me was allowed to participate on a similar level as my director, and use my perspective to engage with others on what works and what doesn’t work in interfaith cooperation as it relates to North Florida. It was an amazing outlet for me. I felt like the audience on the three different panels I served on were attentive and mindful about what I had to offer. It was the first time I summarized my experiences working at the Interfaith Center in a constructive manner for a wide audience, and the reception was stellar.

Easily, the most impactful part of the conference were the people who served on the panels with me. I got to speak alongside the founder of COEXIST (those neat bumper stickers are more than just bumper stickers!) and my lovely co-workers. We talked about the challenge of being intersectional in interfaith cooperation, how to engage secular students in this movement, and when to unite with other organizations to achieve the impact you want on your campus. Indeed, what I felt like I did was formally submit a “call to action” across the faces at this conference. I used my experiences to challenge others to continue to engage in this work and do the best they can with the resources available to them. To put it simply, it was two days of being in the most important city in America, talking about issues that were important to me. Although real life isn’t like Facebook, and there are no buttons or page views to tell me if what I continue to do in college has an effect outside of my school, this conference allowed me to truly say that I have gained a lot in this work and this is how to constructively continue doing said work.

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