What a wonderful summer it was for our Interfaith Youth Leadership Initiatives! We had over 150 high school students and college mentors participate in our three day programs at USC, Chapman University, and Long Beach State. At each of these events, students explored their own religious identity, learned about privilege and standing up for the less privileged, made friends and built a unique interfaith community that can be a model for the kind of diverse leadership our country and world so need right now. Here are some highlights from each program:
At USC – Visited the Los Angeles Baha’i Center, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels, and the Islamic Center of Southern California. We worked at the Union Rescue Mission on Skid Row, and heard from speakers Umar Hakim, Deborah Sanchez, Estee Chandler, and Marwa Balkar. We also had fun at the Santa Monica Pier!
At Chapman University – Visited the Islamic Society of Southern California, the Hsi Lai BuddhistTemple, and the BAPS Hindu Temple. Our community service was done at Rise Against Hunger, and we heard from Music in Common. We had a blast at Boomers, too!
At Long Beach State – We visited a Vietnamese Buddhist Temple, Temple Israel, and the Zoroastrian Center of Southern California. We did a Beach Clean Up, and heard from Native American bands Miracle Dolls and Scatter Their Own. Here we had fun together at Mulligans Family Fun Center.
In the beginning of August, we concluded our 5th Annual Interfaith Youth Leadership Initiative (IYLI) Summer Programming. This summer we completed our 5th L.A. program at USC, our 4th Long Beach program at CSULB, and our 3rd Orange County program at Chapman University. We had the opportunity to work with over 100 students from 11 different faith backgrounds across all three programs. Students spent each of the days with their mentors doing activities, conversing about their faith traditions, and finding common ground among all their faith traditions.
During our Los Angeles program we visited the Islamic Center of Southern California, Wilshire Boulevard Temple, and the International Buddhist Meditation Center. We had an engaging conversation during our Interfaith Leadership Panel with Edina Lekovic (Public Affairs Consultant at Muslim Public Affairs Council), Rabbi Sarah Bassin (Former Executive Director of New Ground: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change), and Rini Ghosh (Peace and Non-Violence Activist, Past President South Coast Interfaith Council, 2009). Our LA group volunteered at Union Rescue Mission by passing out water to homeless individuals on Skid Row, reorganizing rooms in the housing department, and helping with paperwork among other tasks. We also spent an evening at the Santa Monica Pier so our participants could have fun together and create bonds with students of other faith traditions.
On Sunday, March 13th IYCOC had its 12th Annual Faith Forum with about 100 high school participants from 12 different faith traditions. The program theme was “Merging Worlds” and it comprised of open dialogue between youth from different faith traditions on a variety of topics, a panel discussion about continuing interfaith work after high school, and a candle lighting ceremony done by members of each faith present at the event. The youth bonded with other students from different faiths, and had great conversations about their faith traditions and what they thought about events taking place around the world and in our own country.
In addition to the forum, we had our 2nd Annual Arts Festival. We had numerous paintings, drawings, and photographs submitted as visual art pieces. The performing arts portion was filled with youth playing instruments, dancing, and singing. We had a group perform on Japanese drums, a Hindu dance, a Hindu song piece, a Sikh song piece, an LDS choir, a Bahai’ piano piece, and an IYCOC Board intercultural dance. Families and students enjoyed watching the youth perform pieces that represented their faith traditions and cultures.
It was a great event and we are looking forward to doing it again next year!
The last week of July we concluded our 4th Annual IYLI Summer Programming. This summer we completed our 4th L.A. program at USC, our 3rd Long Beach program at CSULB, and our 2nd Orange County program at Chapman University. We had the opportunity to work with 100 students from 11 different faith backgrounds across all three programs. Students spent each of the days with their mentors doing activities, conversing about their faith traditions, and finding common ground among all their faith traditions.
New Vision Partners is taking on the administration of the Interfaith Youth Council of Orange County (IYCOC). IYCOC’s mission statement is to “come together to promote respect, understanding and appreciation for the integrity of each others beliefs, cultures, and traditions, through interfaith dialogue, education, and activities.” We look forward to working with the youth in Orange County and building relationships in their community.
IYCLAC at the IYCOC Faith Forum.
On April 12th, 2015 New Vision Partners hosted its Second Annual Youth Film Competition and First Interfaith Film Festival at All Saints Church in Pasadena, where we screened short films by local filmmakers along with high school student films created along the theme “For the Common Good”. We showed “American Made” by Sharat Raju, which was about a Sikh American family whose car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, and “The Foolishness of God: A Forgiveness Journey with Desmond Tutu” by Karen Hayes, a documentary following Desmond Tutu around the world. We also screened “The Belief,” an animated short about war, by Iranian filmmaker Amir Vahedi and presented the short with the World Cinema Humanitarian Award.
The winners for our 2015 Student Film Competition are as follows: Maisune Abu-Elhaija received 1st Place and a $1000 scholarship for her short film “#ForGood”, Ishaan Jain received 2nd Place and a $500 scholarship for his short film “A Donation of Tolerance”, and Farah Ali received 3rd Place and a $250 scholarship for her short film “Making a Difference.” Honorable mentions to Noor Said for her film “For the Common Good” and to Alanis Galang, Evan Hansen, and Zehra Siddiqui for their film “The World of Interfaith.” To view the submissions, please visit New Vision Partners’ YouTube page (https://www.youtube.com/user/NVPCORAL).
Now accepting applications for IYLI 2015 Summer Programs!
Do you know a high school student who is interested in expanding their leadership skills and knowledge of other faiths so that they are better equipped to interact respectfully with people from different backgrounds? This upcoming June and July, New Vision Partners will be holding its fourth year of programming for the Interfaith Youth Leadership Initiative (IYLI). During the 3-day program, students will build relationships with people of other faiths, take ownership of their own faith perspective, visit different houses of worship, and act out their faith through service of the larger community.The program is free of charge. Upon successful completion of the program, participants will earn a $100 scholarship which they may apply to the college of their choice. All high school students (incoming freshman through seniors) are eligible for the program. Applications for the Interfaith Youth Leadership Initiative in the summer of 2015 are now available online. Save the date, submit your application, and help spread the word. IYLI Dates and links to applications for 2015:
**Application deadline is May 15th for all programs so apply ASAP!**
This past June, the Interfaith Youth Leadership Initiative (IYLI) completed its third year of summer programming and its second Washington D.C. Advocacy trip for high school students. We held three IYLI programs: our Los Angeles program at the University of Southern California, our Long Beach program at California State University of Long Beach, and our Orange County program at Chapman University. Over one hundred and twenty participants from over twenty different faith persuasions contributed to our IYLI and Washington D.C. summer programs.
During our three IYLI programs, youth participants:
- Built leadership skills by speaking publically and sharing their own tradition with others while respecting the traditions of their peers
- Served 500 individuals on Skid Row at the Union Rescue Mission, served the Long Beach community by taking part in a beautification project at Hamilton Middle School, and served the Orange County community by packing 480 boxes of food at the OC Food Bank
- Visited the Islamic Center of Southern California, Los Angeles Mormon Temple Visitors’ Center, Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple, Jain Center of Southern California, First Congregational Church of Long Beach, Guru Nanak Sikh Temple, Islamic Center of Orange County, and the Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple.
- Engaged with speakers who included Rev. Jim Burklo, the Associate Dean of Religious Life at the University of Southern California, Rev. Gary Bernard Williams of Faith United Methodist Church & Hamilton United Methodist Church, Rev. Peter Laarman, Coordinator of Justice Not Jails & former Executive Director of Progressive Christians Uniting, Shourouq Al-Fartoussi, Programs Coordinator at the Islamic Educational Center of Orange County & Board member on the Newport Irvine Mesa Interfaith Council, Rev. Nichelle Madrigal of the Shinnyo Buddhist Temple, Rev. Paige Eaves, Rabbi Frank Stern, Ahmed Younis, J.D. and Dr. Gail Stearns.
IYLI Los Angeles participants at the Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple.