Toolkit & Video: Strategies to Support Youth Engagement and Leadership in Interfaith Work

18 April 2019, 3:15 PM
Young adult leads group discussion

One of the questions we hear most often from interfaith groups is:

“How do we get young adults involved in our work?”

So, on April 17, members of URI from North America (and around the world) gathered for a call to discuss just that!

The following speakers shared that, while engaging young adults may seem like a mystery, it's actually not. They shared, from their personal experiences, methods and strategies for engaging and supporting young adults in interfaith work and leadership. 

We also partnered with MacKenzie Bills, the founder of BRIDGEE, an organization that uses civil dialogue to develop relationships internationally and domestically to create a toolkit, which expounds on many of the principles shared during this call. 

Click here to view the toolkit and here play on the video below to see a recording of the call. 

Our speakers:

  • Suchith Abeyewickreme is a social activist from Sri Lanka and international trainer on peacebuilding, interfaith dialogue, and ethics education. He is also a United Religions Initiative Global Council Trustee.
  • Abhayjeet (Abhay) Singh Sachal is a 17-year old Canadian humanitarian, environmentalist, and activist from Vancouver, BC. He is also co-founder of an international network of youth called Break The Divide.
  • Yasmin Sallak is a Ph.D. student studying Biological Sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara, a member of the local Muslim community, and a Board member of the Interfaith Initiative of Santa Barbara County.

 

toolkit cover page

 

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More about our team: 

Yasmin Sallak is a Ph.D. student studying Biological Sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is a member of the local Muslim community and a Board member of the Interfaith Initiative of Santa Barbara County. She is passionate about applying universal faith values through action-based interfaith efforts in order to advocate for and help those who are most vulnerable in the local community.

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Suchith Abeyewickreme is a Social Activist from Sri Lanka and an International Trainer on peacebuilding, interfaith dialogue and ethics education. He is passionate about helping to build trust between divided communities and supporting the development of critical thinking and empathy especially in children and young people.  

Suchith has worked in more than 15 countries leading trainings in peacebuilding, inter-religious dialogue and ethics education with several organizations including Arigatou International, KAICIID and Sarvodaya.

In his University days and just after from 2002-2009, Suchith was a member of AIESEC, the world’s largest student run organization, holding various roles including President of AIESEC in Sri Lanka,  President of AIESEC in Thailand and Chair of AIESEC in Asia Pacific

He is the Co-Founder of Interfaith Colombo and the Interfaith Youth Network in Sri Lanka. He is also founder and core team member for CHANGE AGENTS, Rise Up Sri Lanka and several other initiatives responding to local challenges and needs in Sri Lanka.

Suchith has been involved with URI since 2010. He was a URI Global Youth Ambassador in 2011 and currently serves as a URI Global Council Trustee.

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Abhayjeet Singh Sachal is a 17-year-old Canadian humanitarian, environmentalist, and activist who believes that engagement in dialogue and conversation can serve to spark change around the world. After a trip to the Arctic in 2016, Abhayjeet he co-founded Break The Divide Foundation, a non-profit organization that connects youth around the world with one another.. Based on principles of environmentalism, sustainability, and reconciliation, Break The Divide focuses on encouraging youth to promote peace.

Abhayjeet has been a key presenter at numerous international conferences in his efforts to share environmental knowledge and personal experiences.Abhayjeet is also an avid ice hockey player and pianist. He was named Starfish Canada’s Top 25 Under 25 Environmentalists for 2017.

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MacKenzie Bills is the founder of Building Relationships In between Diverse Groups through Educational Engagement (BRIDGEE), originally from Des Moines, Iowa, graduated with honors from Simpson College. She majored in Political Science and International Relations with minors in Religion and French focusing specifically on Religious Freedom.

She is a long-time Interfaith-er and dialogue practitioner. MacKenzie spent time as a Fellow at the Religious Freedom Center in Washington, D.C. where she practiced and trained with Reverend Kristen Farrington on the basics of dialogue and facilitation. MacKenzie has also spent time in the U.S. Department of State as a report editor for the International Religious Freedom Report. She has organized Interfaith Programs as the Interfaith Organizer on her college campus, as well as served on the National Leadership Team at Interfaith Youth Core. In her spare time, MacKenzie serves on the DMV Interfaith Leadership Summit as an organizer. Before coming to Washington, D.C., MacKenzie served as a Fulbright Grantee in Malaysia where she dedicated herself to developing enriching youth programs focused on empowerment and interfaith conversation.

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