New student organization creates connections between those of different religions

It was just two weeks ago that members of all different religious groups on campus gathered for a feast and celebration, the Interfaith Thanksgiving dinner, hosted by the newly approved Interfaith Council student organization in partnership with the University of Miami Chaplains Association.

“The room just had so much passion,” said Sahana Kamisetty, a junior neuroscience major and president of the Interfaith Council since August.

The dinner was a one-night example of what Kamisetty hopes the council will become now that it was officially approved as a student organization in October. It is among the first organizations to also be under the Standing Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and under the UM Chaplains Association – making it the ultimate bridge between administration, students and religious leaders.

The council keeps note of what different religious organizations are planning and passes the word along to the other groups, in hopes that they will support one another’s events and activities. By simply creating a centralized organization for information on the campus’ religious events, the interfaith council encourages cross-cultural immersion and education.

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The Interfaith Council's first Interfaith Thanksgiving brought together a slew of students from various religious backgrounds in an effort to educate one another on each's respective practices.

Especially in the current state of the world, where globalization and polarization are forever in tension with one another, Kamisetty says her goal is to eliminate the contemporary mindset of forming boundaries between groups and instead encourage connections.

Kamisetty herself didn’t know much about Jewish traditions until she joined the council, but said she has become more aware of the shared practices.

“I never knew what Kosher was until a couple of weeks ago,” she said. “I learned that it’s the same as Halaal.”

The council takes advantage of how many students there are who are passionate and respectful of their own religious practices, and maximizes the effect by creating spaces that may not have been possible 50, 20 or even 10 years ago – like a table of people from seven or eight different religions.

Kamisetty said her goal for this year is to represent every single religion on campus, no matter how small it may be. The Interfaith Council is seeking delegates from underrepresented religious identities. In the spring, the council will host its Religion Awareness Say, just as it did in April 2017.

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Correction, Dec. 5 2017: This article previously stated the Interfaith Thanksgiving was hosted by the Interfaith Council. The council co-hosted the event with the UM Chaplains Association.