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Meet the emerging leaders of the 2015 Parliament!
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Dear Michelle,

The Parliament is only 15 days away and amazing things are happening! Are you ready for it? If you are coming, you will not be disappointed.

Registration is still open and you should definitely try and join us if you are not yet signed up by registering here. If you are not planning to come, please donate something for those who would like to attend the Parliament but otherwise cannot (without your help!).

His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s love for the Parliament was the reason why he spared an hour for us earlier this week. Although he has cancelled all his commitments at his doctors' advice, this Tuesday we recorded an exceptional interview with him which will be released at the Golden Luncheon Banquet of the Parliament.

Our beloved hero made several extraordinary points in that exclusive interview which very well might make headlines and surprise others. We plan to release this only after those attending the Parliament have first had the opportunity to see it.

Before we parted Tuesday morning, he was so kind to record a direct message special to the Parliament's attendees which will also be kept in secret until its premiere at one of the Parliament's plenary sessions.
 
The Good News: 71 percent of all interfaith organizations surveyed consider “Youth” as a part of their mission's constituency-specific programming.

The Bad News: “Youth” were the least likely to serve on an organization’s Board (32.4%), and only 17.6 percent as a leader of the Board.

The Good News: Significant, however, is the fact that 50 percent of organizations noted that “youth” served as unpaid committee leaders and 79.4 percent said “youth” held “other leadership positions” within the organization.

The Bad News: Only 3 percent of interfaith organizations surveyed had youth as paid staff.

(Source: Report by Harvard University Pluralism Project)

Let us improve this picture by treating and embracing youth as emerging leaders.
The 2015 Parliament will have special focus on emerging leaders which is our term for youth. We did many things to facilitate their participation.

Here is but a glimpse: 
  • We offered the best discount possible for students to attend.
  • We established an Emerging Leaders Task Force.
  • We are organizing children’s programing for young families.
  • We are holding an Emerging Leaders plenary.
  • We have established a special scholarship fund for Emerging Leaders.
  • All plenaries feature young adults presenting!

Join us in supporting the Declaration of Emerging Leaders, by adding your signature and making a personal commitment, along with thousands of others.

"Despite the fact that five of every ten people in the world are 30 years of age or younger, this demographic is often overlooked or not consulted by older or more senior leaders, strategists, and thinkers as global problems are considered in international, governmental, non-government organizational, or private sector deliberations.

Furthermore, because young people are focused on completing their education, advancing careers, starting families, and building networks of friends, they themselves sometimes feel they must refuse leadership roles they might have opportunities to take. Finally, since youth are so often the most vulnerable and victimized by poverty, many of them become trapped in low-paying jobs that don’t afford the luxury of planning for the future or worrying about “society."

 

Sign and read all the Parliament's declarations:

 
Meet the Emerging Leaders Sharing Their Keynotes at the 2015 Parliament

Dr. Eboo Patel (Co-Emcee)

Dr. Eboo Patel is a Gujurati-American Muslim, and holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship. While going to school, Patel noticed that conversations around multiculturalism and multiple identities did not involve religious identity. He felt that diversity, service, and faith were important parts of civic life but found no community organization that touched on all three, specifically one that worked with young people. He established interfaith youth projects in India, Sri Lanka and South Africa.

In 2002, he founded the Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago, where he currently serves as Executive Director. Patel is a member of President Barack Obama's Inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-based Neighborhood Partnerships.

 

Ta’Kaiya Blaney

Kaiya Blaney, 13, is from the Tla’Amin First Nation and grew up along the shores of the Salish Sea in British Columbia. She is a singer-songwriter, actress, and environmental rights activist and has been speaking publically since the age of nine.
She advocates for providing better qualities of living in Indigenous First Nations territories, and ending the oppression, racism, and corruption they face from government and within the community. She has spoken in a UN meeting across the globe, including The TUNZA UN children and youth conference on the environment in Bandung Indonesia, and the Rio+20 UN conference on the environment in Rio de Janeiro.

Faatimah Knight

Faatimah Knight is pursuing an MA in Religious Studies at the Chicago Theological Seminary and holds a BA in Islamic Law and Theology from Zaytuna College in Berkeley, CA. She spearheaded the project "Respond With Love: Rebuild Black Churches, Support Victims of Arson Across the South," leading a team raising $100,000 for black churches victimized by arson following the murders at the AME Church in Charleston, SC. A member of the Lamppost Education Initiative's Board of Directors, Faatimah also serves as Religion section editor for the African-American Islamic online resource Sapelo Square.

 

K.R. Ravindran

K.R. Ravindran is the 2015-2016 President Elect of Rotary International. A Rotarian since 1974, Ravindran has served RI as treasurer; director; Foundation trustee; committee member, vice chair, and chair; task force member; RI training leader; and district governor. As his country's national PolioPlus chair, Ravindran headed a task force consisting of the government, UNICEF, and Rotary and worked closely with UNICEF to successfully negotiate a ceasefire with the northern militants during National Immunization Days. He also chaired the Schools Reawakening project, sponsored by Rotary clubs and districts in Sri Lanka, to rebuild 25 tsunami-devastated schools to benefit 15,000 children.

Zach Hunter

Zach Hunter is an American author, social entrepreneur, and anti-slavery activist. When he was 12 years old, he launched Loose Change to Loosen Chains, a student-led effort to raise awareness and funds to end slavery. Since, Zach has spoken around the world helping instill a passion to change the world into the hearts of millennials and elders. He has authored four books, Be the Change, Generation Change, Lose Your Cool, and Chivalry: The Quest for a Personal Code of Honor in an Unjust World. He has been named a modern-day hero by CNN and twice spoken on a White House roundtable.

Pardeep Singh Kaleka

Pardeep Singh Kaleka: Pardeep is the eldest son of Satwant Singh Kaleka, the president of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin who was gunned down during the attacks of August 5th, 2012. Pardeep grew up in Milwaukee and graduated from Marquette University. Being a former Milwaukee Police Officer and a current teacher in the inner city, Pardeep is no stranger to the never ending battle against racism, bigotry, and ignorance. He firmly believes that the lamp of knowledge and truth will outshine all the darkness in the world, and does his best to profess this through his work with Serve 2 Unite.

Suzanne Bakarat

Suzanne is a resident in Family Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Prior to residency, Suzanne worked at a makeshift polyclinic serving 20,000 refugees along the Turkey-Syria border. She also conducted research on gestational diabetes and postpartum mental health outcomes in low-income Latina women, and translated an online mood screener into Arabic, the results of which contributed to a first-of-its-kind mental health assessment of Arabic-speaking communities worldwide. She is passionate about women’s health, mental health, global health, and social justice. A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Suzanne earned her BS and MD at UNC Chapel Hill.

Honey and the Sting

Honey and the Sting was formed at Connecticut’s Wesleyan University in 2012 for Sam Long’s Senior Music Recital. The group’s intention is to create art that activates its audiences and connects them to their environment. Honey and the Sting will perform a selection of songs from their first LP From Source to Sea: a 10 song cycle that honored the Connecticut River through songs about the interactions between the river and the people and animals that have inhabited its banks. Featuring Melanie Hsu, Howe Pearson, Gemma Smith, Jessica Best, and Sam Long.

Andrea Zucker

Andrea is a Nexus Global Youth Summit Outreach Ambassador, writer, and social impact investor who believes each of us should harness our gifts to find our best ways to give. A native of South Carolina, her parents modeled the importance of community involvement in both the Jewish and secular communities.  She is also devoted to creating a safer and cleaner environment through reducing dependence on oil and serves on the board of SAFE, Securing America’s Future Energy. She is pursuing an M.F.A. at American University.

 

Heba El-Hendi

Born in the U.A.E. to Palestinian parents, Heba moved to the U.S. with her family in 1999. Heba earned a BA in Sociology from Emory University in Atlanta and served as an AmeriCorps volunteer in youth education. Heba studied in Israel where she became more interested in people-to-people peacebuilding between Palestinians and Israelis. As a Fulbright English teaching fellow in Morocco, she taught at Mohammad V University. Last year Heba joined Peace-Players-Middle East as one of the International Fellows, where she helps manage PeacePlayers communities in Northern Israel.

Yonatan Belik

Born and raised in Israel to Jewish-Australian parents, Yonatan became interested in youth empowerment and co-existence from an early age. He served as a motivational speaker for the Israeli army. Yonatan participates in a mixed Palestinian-Israeli Australian Football (AFL) team “Peace Team,” which he manages in Jerusalem, concurrently studying Business and Middle East-Islam at the Hebrew University. As a counselor and program coordinator at Seeds of Peace, Yonatan uses AFL as a tool to build bridges between youth in regions of conflict. He has been described as passionate, resourceful and engaging. This is Yonatan’s second appearance at the Parliament. 

Isobel Arthen


Isobel Arthen is an environmental activist, organizer and trainer. She grew up in a community with an understanding of the Earth as sacred. That spiritual perspective has driven her to make change in the world, particularly around issues of climate justice. A recent graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Isobel was a youth presenter and performer at the 2009 Parliament and has been attending as a member of the EarthSpirit Community since 1993. This year, Isobel returns to the Parliament as a representative of the PeaceJam Foundation and member of the Emerging Leaders Task Force.
Register Now for the 2015 Parliament
An often under-utilized opportunity at the Parliament is the chance to visit the sacred spaces and places of worship organized by faith traditions that differ from your own. There will be religious observances throughout the duration of the Parliament that are open to all; make sure to investigate times and locations so that you can take full advantage of these enlightening events!  

There are customs that are common practice among each faith, although these can differ depending on regional, communal and personal factors. The best way to understand these customs and prepare for these services is to find someone from that religion to accompany you!

Here are some pieces of advice for enjoying one specific observance, the langar; a free meal available to all on each day of the Parliament, and a chief tenant of the Sikh faith.


Langar:
  • Dress appropriately and comfortably for sitting on the ground. Loose fitting clothing that covers your legs is ideal! It might be a good idea to test out your langar outfit beforehand by sitting on the ground and making sure that everything is covered and comfortable.
  • Be prepared to remove your shoes as you enter the langar area.
  • No smoking is allowed; In fact, you ought to leave your tobacco products with your shoes! While we know that not everyone will bring a head-covering, it is encouraged. Bandannas and head scarves are the most appropriate form of headwear.

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of downloading and using the Parliament app. You can browse all of the events and speakers and create your personal schedule. The app is your key for navigating the 2015 Parliament.
 
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InterfaithNow is a newsletter of the Parliament of the World's Religions
For more info: ParliamentOfReligions.org
The views expressed in InterfaithNow may not necessarily reflect the official position of the Parliament, its Officers, or Board of Trustees.
© 2015 Parliament of the World's Religions, All rights reserved.