People Like Us, Making Big Changes
The atmosphere in the small room at the University of Leeds was tense. We had brought together leaders of three faith societies for the first time. Before this meeting, they barely knew each other.
They didn’t think they could work together. Our goal: in just two months, they would stage the first ever interfaith event at Leeds and it would be a roaring success.
Any failure would be public, and these societies had over 1,000 members. That’s a lot of witnesses to your humiliation. Those who thought it was a bad idea from the start would be saying, ‘I told you so!’ This event had to be brilliant.
You give people control. The empowerment almost makes people suspicious because they’re not used to it.
It took an hour, but we chose three things to achieve:
- 1. To make a clear public statement that students of different faiths and beliefs can work together.
- 2. To create an atmosphere that is inclusive, interactive and exciting.
- 3. To appeal to core members of the three societies, especially those who would not normally attend interfaith events.
In another hour we had invented a brand new concept: an interfaith comedy quiz night. We called it ‘Under:Stand:Up’.
People like us
Two months and many hours of work later, 300 students were queuing up. The student organisers stared at the crowd. ‘Have you seen all those people? This is amazing!’
The student comedians took the stage to a full house.
When people are laughing, they’re generally not killing each other. - Abdu Jassim Alhadithi
But the real meaning of the event was lost on no-one. A group of students had united over what they thought alienated them. Love and tolerance on campus are not too hard to strive for.
Those things you see boomed in the news about people torn apart by their beliefs is something that can be combatted by people like us.
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