‘Acts of Faith’ author to speak Oct. 29

Eboo Patel
Eboo Patel

Want to learn how the NIU community can come together on the common ground of service to make a difference?

Eboo Patel, author of “Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation,” will speak at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29, in the Carl Sandburg Auditorium of the Holmes Student Center.

Patel is founder and executive director of the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core, which aims to “catalyze, resource and network this generation of interfaith leaders, and watch them change the world.”

Accordingly, he is expected to speak on the value of Ubuntu (human kindness) and the power of individuals from all background in service together.

His presentation is free and open to the public. Non-perishable food items will be accepted at the door; donations will benefit hunger relief organizations in the DeKalb and Sycamore communities.

A book-signing will follow at 7:30 p.m. in the Gallery Lounge of the student center.

“Acts of Faith,” the text for NIU’s 2013-2014 Common Reading Experience, follows Patel’s path from adolescent apathy to his urgency to be a part of something during his college years. Through his serendipitous journey, Patel reflects on his own beliefs, his interactions with non-believers and believers of many different faiths, and his call to act on his own passion to develop the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC).

His work predominantly focuses on college and university campuses.

During his visit to the NIU campus, Patel also will participate in a dialogue with UNIV 101/201 students and student religious leaders. He also will meet administrators, directors of cultural centers, members of religious organizations and community residents.

An adviser on President Barack Obama’s inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships, he has spoken about his vision for interfaith cooperation at places such as the TED conference, the Clinton Global Initiative and the Nobel Peace Prize Forum.

Book cover of “Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation” by Eboo Patel“Patel really wants to create a campus community where people understand one another, put aside differences, respect the differences and come together to work for a larger civic good,” Vice Provost Anne Birberick says.

The book emphasizes the power that youth can have when engaging in their surroundings in a positive way, highlighting service as common ground for young individuals to explore their beliefs.

Patel writes: “W.E.B. Du Bois famously said, ‘The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.’ I believe that the twenty-first century will be shaped by the question of the faith line.”

Patel’s journey goes hand in hand with this year’s CRE selection, which sets out to:

  • appeal to students who want to diversify their college experience;
  • challenge them to explore the beliefs and faith traditions they’ve experienced or are curious about, and
  • demand that they think critically about a diversity component that is not typically addressed in college.

“ ‘Acts of Faith’ brings our campus together in a way that you wouldn’t normally see,” says Abria Martin, student staff member of First- and Second-Year Experience and a junior communication major. “We’re all here for the same reason and school is our No. 1 focus, but the Common Reading challenges us get involved and see the greater picture. There’s such a huge impact we can make by reflecting on our beliefs and serving together.”

For more information, call (815) 753-0028 or email firstconn@niu.edu.

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