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.
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!
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.
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 Communitiesseries 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.
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.
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.
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!