Success Story: Interfaith Dialogue at Iowa State University
Sri Lalitha Dakshayani Dhulipala, ISU, Ames, IA
Hindu YUVA at ISU, as a group strives to provide a platform to practice, preserve, promote and protect Hindu values by serving the broader international Hindu and non-Hindu communities – with the vision of contributing towards the world peace. In a multi-cultural campus, interaction and idea exchange with other communities is equally important. Interfaith dialogue was one such idea to reach out to these communities and to bring awareness amongst them about the values Hindu culture has to offer and learn their culture as well.
Hindu YUVA organized its first Interfaith Dialogue to mark the 148th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, celebrated as International Day of Non-violence, on 2nd of October 2017 with an aim to promote Peace and Non-Violence, the “Ahimsa Marg” preached by Gandhi. A panel discussion was conducted on the importance of Peace and Non-Violence in today’s day and age. Hinduism, Jainism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism were represented on the panel. The event concluded with the chanting of peace prayers of every faith.
After the success of the first Interfaith Dialogue organized by Hindu YUVA, we were approached by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to lead the efforts in promoting the interfaith coexistence in the campus. In the system heavily influenced by the western notions of diversity based on limiting concept of tolerance, we are paving a way for the Hindu value-based framework which manifests the ideas of “वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्” and “mutual respect”. As a starter, we lead the team of 5 religious groups to organize a “Campus Conversation” event focusing explicitly on the concept of “Mutual Respect”.
For sustenance of these efforts, we are establishing a campus-wide “Interfaith Council” under the guidance of Office of Diversity. It will serve not only as a platform for the community to know and understand different faiths and their worldviews but also help in facilitating the free exchange of knowledge, ideas, and opinions. International Students Council at ISU recognized our team effort by presenting with the annual “Event of the Year” Award and was appreciated by Dr. Wintersteen, President of Iowa State University for our leadership in bringing various multi-cultural organizations together and our commitment to improving the campus climate for members of underrepresented groups.
About the presenters…
Lalitha is a graduate student at Iowa State University pursuing Master’s in Computer Engineering. She is currently the President of Hindu YUVA chapter at Iowa State University. She has been associated with this organization for the past 2 years.