“Allies in Interfaith” is the next Diversity Dialogues focus.
To make NIU a more welcoming and inclusive environment, discussion about different belief systems is important, said said Vernese Edghill-Walden, NIU senior associate vice president for Academic Diversity and chief diversity officer.
“Being a member of one belief system does not mean you can’t be an ally to other groups or other belief systems. Listening and understanding what we have in common, and what makes each belief system different, can bring groups together to work toward shared values and common goals,” Edghill-Walden said.
Allies in Interfaith is planned to foster dialogue about understanding the intersections of interfaith and how people can work together without judgment.
Writer and activist Aaminah Khan and Katie Gordon, program manager of the Kaufman Interfaith Institute at Grand Valley State University, will lead a discussion and workshop from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, April 21, on why this work is important and how to create an inclusive environment with the help of allies and interfaith communities on campus and off. The event takes place in the Regency Room of the Holmes Student Center.
NIU is continuing the interfaith dialogue begun a few years ago.
“Discussions about interfaith have been ongoing,” Edghill-Walden said. “Over the past couple years, NIU has been having dialogues about interfaith and shared values. It started with the Common Reading Experience of ‘Acts with Faith’ by Eboo Patel.”
The Office of Academic Diversity and the Diversity Dialogues committee reached out to Patel’s Interfaith Youth Core – NIU hosts a student chapter IFYC’s Better Together organization – that suggested Khan and Gordon speak at Allies in Interfaith dialogue.
Gordon is the program manager of the Kaufman Interfaith Institute as well as an interfaith services coordinator with Division of Inclusion & Equity, both at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Mich. Gordon uses program-centered on interfaith dialogue and cooperation as a tool to create a more accepting, understanding, and inclusive campus and community.
Khan is an Australian-born activist of Pakistani and Turkish descent currently living in the United States. A staff writer for The Rainbow Hub, Khan’s work has been featured in The Huffington Post, Black Girl Dangerous, The Progressive and elsewhere.
The format for the dialogue will begin with Khan and Gordon speaking about their backgrounds and what they bring to the discussion. Following that, case-studies will be discussed in round-table groups, each of which later will report its findings to the larger audience.
“We really wanted to have this larger conversation,” Edghill-Walden said. “This is a continuation of NIU’s commitment to inclusive excellence by providing a space where students, faculty, staff and the community can have an honest dialogue about how we can be an ally, and how people with different beliefs and identities can work together for the common good.”
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