The End of a Chapter: Summer 2017

This week was filled with lasts: last Gateway to Religious Communities, last learning lunch, last development day, last meeting with Anneke, last intern bonding time.

On Sunday, I attended Main Line Unitarian Church with Charlotte and seven others. It was a interesting service to observe: the visiting minister talked about coming back to ourselves and her journey of learning to be okay with accepting criticism and compliments. After the service the lead minister and some of the trustees of the church came to dialogue with us during question and answer period, which was helpful.

The Walking the Walk Reunion 2017 took place on Tuesday evening and was very successful: 23 people showed up, many staying for the whole event. I think everyone enjoyed catching up with each other and meeting new people. We had alumni and mentors who were involved in the Walking the Walk youth program from 2008 to last year. Discussion flowed smoothly, my weaving craft turned out really well and people seemed to enjoy the film.

Giving the intro to Of Many
A silly group picture: more pictures can be found on the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia’s facebook page

Thursday was my last day. I finished up some small projects and then Amanda treated us with ice cream in the afternoon to celebrate our last Development Day. That evening, we finally had the staff event the interns had been planning all summer: dinner at Tamarind in old city and La La Land in Penn’s Landing afterwards.

This summer has been amazing: yes, slow at times like any job, but for the most part I enjoyed it. The staff are so warm, I connected deeply with the other interns and I had a nice balance of direction and projects I could make my own. It was amazing being in a city with so many different communities of people and different cultures. I have loved learning about other faiths that I had no exposure to living in rural Southern Maryland and Carlisle.

If you are interested in interfaith work and my experience sounded interesting you can go to the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia’s intern page. If you live in the Philadelphia area and just want to shadow for the day, that’s possible too. Also since this was an unpaid internship, I was very fortunate to get help from Dickinson to pay for gas and food. I could have applied for money to support housing but I had family in the area and was able to save money that way. I definitely recommend applying for the Internship Grant: contact Amity Fox in the Dickinson Career Center for more information.

Winding Down

It’s hard to believe that next week is my last week at the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia  ! It’s been a wild ride but I think that it’s been a very valuable experience. You most likely saw me on the Dickinson Snapchat Wednesday, but if you didn’t that’s okay too 🙂

Last Sunday I went to the home of a Baha’i family, who taught us the basics of their faith, led us through a devotion and question and answer, and finally hosted a reception. The Baha’i faith is one I knew nothing about before going, and I still don’t have a amazing grasp on it, but it was really interesting to see all the different individuals takes on their faith.

I have been putting together the final pieces for the reunion, merging my notes from last week’s Learning Lunch/Staff Meeting with previous WTW games to come up with an agenda Anneke can use for the Walking the Walk Student Group Leader training. Like always, I have also been working on little tasks in the office like creating a graphic to advertise Anneke’s Interfaith Ally Training and working with Charlotte and Bari to stuff and label about 200 Thank You notes to send to donors.

On Wednesday, Bari talked to us during staff meeting about the Nationality Rooms at the University of Pittsburgh, where she gives tours during the school year. They are beautiful! I can’t believe students have classes in them! Later in the day, I joined her and John for John’s personal tour of the Philadelphia Museum of Art  . His tour led us throughout the museum to pieces of art that depicted nature and taught us something about the faith tradition/culture of the artist. From Claude Monet’s paintings which were painted during his meditation practices, to biblical paintings, to islamic mosaics that connected flowers with God’s endless existence, to hindu art that depicted many stories within one piece…it was really fantastic.

John telling us about the sculpture out to the front of the building.
Me and Bari being goofy outside the museum after the tour

Learning Lunches, Career Conversations, Intern Adventures Oh My!

This week was short but eventful. Tuesday I came to work and joined the interns and Nicole in our first day learning about Salesforce . We learned how to navigate the site, edit contacts and campaigns. In the afternoon I found the median and mode of the data pulled from the evaluations and finished up an infograph about Walking the Walk. I think it will be helpful to use on social media or to print out and give to new partner communities.

Wednesday I was in charge of leading the staff meeting/Learning Lunch. I presented on my involvement with  Curvy Girls  and applied it to the Interfaith Center by talking about the importance of youth leadership training and leading the staff in the initial process of developing an interfaith youth leadership training. It was very successful. Later that evening I navigated Center City to attend Dickinson’s Career Conversations event. I met some really interesting alumni and was surprised to see a few students I knew well. I really encourage anyone who is interning/living in a location that has Career Conversations to attend it. It’s a great way to meet Dickinson alums and learn about different careers –and most everyone there was very kind and helpful!

Thursday was Development Day and the interns had the opportunity to free write and practice writing an annual appeal letter. I really enjoyed the activity and getting to practice different methods of writing. At the end of the day I talked on the phone with a former Walking the Walk Student Group Leader who will be a Dickinsonian in the fall! She will be assisting me with the WTW reunion.

After work I checked off another thing on my Philadelphia Bucket List: visiting Reading Terminal Market with the other interns. We each purchased dinner from different vendors and met up to eat. It was such a wonderful and cultural experience!

Charlotte, me and Bari at the market

Walking Through Another Week

This week began with the Walk for Understanding  in which I joined Anneke, Allison and a couple of other women for 6 miles (out of a 10 mile walk). The group began at Main Line Reform Temple, I joined them at Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship (a mosque)  and we finished up at the Episcopal Cathedral near Drexel. I really appreciated all of the conversations I had with the women: learning about Anneke’s past jobs working with refugees in Philadelphia and a women’s empowerment organization, Marilyn’s niece who also had scoliosis surgery who works with detainees, and many others who had worked as ministers, interfaith chaplains in hospitals, etc. Many heroines walked through Philadelphia last Sunday!

The rest of the week was filled with evaluations: recording scaled responses from pre-evaluations and post-evaluations that participants took before and after the Walking the Walk program. Once I entered the data I was able to produce graphs and work with Canva to produce an infographic.

On Wednesday Morning I met up with my mentor again in Chestnut Hill. She gave me an activity to start an interfaith discussion at school or wherever else and she talked about her experience developing liturgical auditing program. This program aimed to help churches see how they can be more welcoming to strangers: at least two auditors who had been trained would be invited to a place of worship, sit away from each other and take notes on their experience. They would not write about the preaching style but would comment on the community, the architecture and other elements that contribute to different people feeling comfortable. We talked about my time at the Interfaith Center, what I think I will take out of the summer, etc. We won’t be able to meet again this summer due to our schedules but I look forward to keeping in touch with her!

Yesterday I went with Anneke to Main Line Reform Temple to talk with them about Walking the Walk . Their synagogue has been involved with the program since it began and they had a lot of energy to find new ways to make the program fit their youth which was exciting.

 

Three women walked this whole route.
The Mosque
The crew at the gurdwara
Finally at the Cathedral!

Stories, Shake Shack and Shambhala

This week was a short week. Monday and Tuesday the office was closed for the holidays. On Wednesday we had our regular staff meeting, shared the story of our names and then an interfaith story we either lived or a friend lived. It was really amazing to share and get to know one another better, understand why we do what we do. Later that day Charlotte, Bari, John and I grabbed dinner at Shake Shack after work before heading to the Shambhala Center.  John told us about his journey and how he ended up at the interfaith center. At first nervous to have a staff member join our young intern dinner, it was a great experience full of laughter and contemplation. Wednesday was the first night of the Gateway to Religious Communities series that Charlotte has put together for this summer. There was a GREAT turnout. It was wonderful to learn more about Shambhala Budhism. “It is more a philosophy than a religion” was a comment that stood out to me.

Jude talking about the significance of some things in the room
The meditation room we used
Group Photo!

Then Thursday was the usual development day. We brainstormed for fall fundraisers, finalized a “Thank You” card for donors and returned to our personal projects.

Friday I worked an extra day so I can get a day off a different week. I came into the office and saw I had 3 people register for the reunion! I connected with Student Group Leaders to attain the rest of their forms, looked into more research and added to the agenda.

Another Week and Another Amanda

In week 4 of Sara’s wild adventure at the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia, I met up with my mentor for the first time, observed a meeting to promote Walking the Walk in a new church, made the Walking the Walk Reunion internet official and finished up some newsletters.

The church Anneke and I went to for a WTW meeting. St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church…not in Carlisle PA

My mentor’s name is Amanda S. She has newly joined the Board of Directors of the Interfaith Center and is very passionate about interfaith work and religious education. She took a lot of classes at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia  and has recently been involved in a interfaith group in her neighborhood. I will meet up with her at least once more before the end of the summer and I am told she will be a resource for me in the future…which I am looking forward to because our discussion on Monday morning was so interesting!

Week 3

Wow! Week three flew by!

Another intern, Bari joined us on Tuesday morning. She had just returned Sunday from a semester abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As Charlotte and I hope to be heading to that country in Spring 2018 we pestered her with questions.

I continue to work on various things with the Walking the Walk program. We finally heard back from someone at NYU and they said the plan is for Of Many to come out on Youtube in late July! Yay! Now I don’t have to figure out how to get rights to screen the film and YOU can watch it too. I continue to brainstorm and prep for the Alumni event and work on littler projects in the office.

More exciting things…this afternoon interviewed a student who participated in Walking the Walk this past year for an Alumni highlight. Then, this evening Charlotte and I tagged along with the St. Joe’s Prep boys (who were on an Alternative Break program hosted by the Interfaith Center) as they went to the Sikh Society of Upper Darby. There was a presentation on Sikhism, we observed part of a prayer, were fed lots of food and then finished things off with a group discussion. Gurudwaras (places of Sikh worship) are known for providing food to people weekly, even daily. Apparently in India there’s a Gurudwara that feeds about 100,000 people daily.  Their hospitality is so radical but meaningful: the faith is founded on the idea that no matter what caste, ethnicity, faith, or background, all people should have access to religion and to God. I learned that most of the men in the U.S. who wear turbans are Sikh, which is very important to note because the Sikh emphasize that all people are a part of God’s family…so different from terrorist organizations. We were handed a packet of more info, photos of part of it are below.

page 1…sorry its so hard to read!

 

Shoelaces and working in Outdoor Spaces

This week was the first full week. I began on bigger projects for Walking the Walk but also helped out with other things around the office, like tying together 100 pairs of shoe laces. This summer, I am in charge of planning an event for Walking the Walk alumni and reviewing the curriculum with Anneke.

One of the many pairs of shoe laces we tied to distribute to Alternative Break groups.

Side note– As I was looking up the movie we hope to show (Of Many) I discovered NYU’s Global Spiritual Life Office has sooo many resources on their website. They developed the Faith Zone program (which may come to Dickinson’s campus in the coming years), this movie and run a podcast on iTunes called Multifaithful. Check it out, it’s really interesting!

On Wednesday we had our weekly meeting and Intern Amanda presented on Elizabethtown’s Interfaith Leadership Studies major. The staff was very excited and was brainstorming ways The Center could aid this program and encourage others like it.

Thursday the Interns had our second Development Day where we were introduced to Letters of Intent (which are written to convince foundations to give grant money to an organization) and 990 forms.  During the morning where the interns were told to try and write our own Letters of Intent, we (Amanda, Charlotte and I) sat outside in the courtyard of the building. It was such a nice morning!

Amanda and me working hard on our first draft of a Letter of Intent

And so it begins!

 

I began my internship this past Wednesday at the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia. I am very excited to finally be here!

How did I find and attain this internship? This past year I worked in the Office of Religious Life which is a part of Dickinson’s Center for Service, Spirituality and Social Justice.  A few weeks before spring break, my boss sent a link and asked the religious life student leaders if we wanted to attend the “Interfaith Campus Leadership Conference” which was put on by the Interfaith Center. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go but I was very excited to find internship opportunities on the Interfaith Center’s website. The application process was straightforward and a few weeks later, when I was offered the unpaid internship, I immediately applied for Dickinson’s internship grant. I was lucky enough to be offered the grant, which pays for transportation and food (I had found free housing with family)!

So now, here I am in Philadelphia. I attended my first staff meeting on Wednesday. I met two of the three other interns as well as much of the full time and part time staff. You can read about us here! At the weekly meetings, the staff go around and check-in about projects they are doing in the office and then there is usually a presentation by a staff member. This week’s focus was on logos, slogans and marketing.

Thursday was my first full day. I experienced the first “Development Day” with the other interns. This time around was a get-to-know-you experience: we shared our faith journeys, why we think Interfaith Understanding is important and later began an intro to non-profit fundraising.

Development Day
The lobby of our office…oh hey it’s the Interfaith Center!