Name: Jem Jebbia
Profession: Student, University of Southern California
Organization: USC Interfaith Council
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Why Interfaith? Studying religion is my passion, but to me it’s not complete without interacting with those who live the religion. Not everyone on the IFC is religious or spiritual, but learning how people practice reflection and how they apply spirituality to other aspects of their lives is both fascinating and enriching.
How you can be a Partner: I think participating in interfaith is great in a council or group but can also be done simply by engaging in conversations with people about their beliefs. It seems hard sometimes because we think people don’t want to talk about it, but my experience is people overwhelmingly love talking about their faith, regardless if it’s religious, spiritual, or neither.
As an undergraduate at USC, I decided to study Religion, Business Administration, and East Asian Languages and Cultures. My Japanese and Religion classes energized me, and I looked for a way to experience religion outside the classroom and to explore my own Buddhist faith. After meeting with Dean Varun Soni, the Dean of Religious Life at USC, I joined the Interfaith Council at USC to meet other students interested in learning about faith traditions different than their own. The students on the Council were some of the most intelligent, thoughtful, and committed to serving the community that I had ever encountered. The dialogues we engaged in weekly, on topics from interfaith marriage to death and dying, stimulated my thinking about religion in an exciting new way. My week began to revolve around these conversations. I grew so passionate about Interfaith work that I even spent a year away from USC working as a multifaith ambassador for the UN Millennium Development Goals in Boston. After my year away I returned to USC and served as the Vice President and the President of the Council, and helped plan many service projects and events. Most recently, we executed the Student Multifaith Leadership Conference, which brought together students interested in multifaith leadership from around Southern California. This coming fall, I will embark on a new journey in interfaith work, studying religion at the University of Chicago.