Interfaith Day brings youth to campus

Kristian Evans, Senior News Editor

The Interfaith Youth Day of Service, a day of workshops that brought around 100 people, mostly high-school students, to Augsburg took place on Monday, Feb. 18. The event was organized by Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul. Among the organizers of the event included Fardosa Hassan, the Augsburg Muslim Program Student Associate, who helped put together much of the day’s programming.

The event opened with breakfast in the Foss Atrium and a welcome by Augsburg Pastor Sonja Hagander and prayers from student ambassadors as well as live music from a DJ. With students from a variety of different communities and faith backgrounds, the opening session focused on the need for an understanding of faiths, regardless of one’s place on their own path.

After the welcome, the first session allowed individuals who were gathered to attend “101” sessions that offered brief descriptions of world religions. “Students get the opportunity to be in front of people who practice a different faith than their own,” said Emilie Tomas, one of the event’s volunteers. “It is a really great opportunity to learn about various faiths from someone who has lived experiences outside of your religion or religious beliefs.”

After the opening sessions, the students were brought back to the chapel to hear the keynote address. The keynote speaker, St. Paul City Council member Rebecca Noecker, spoke on her faith journey through years in service with both Teach for America and working abroad as an educator. A main theme of the speech was that few journeys through life go without unexpected circumstances, citing a quote from Rabbi Tarfon: “You are not obliged to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” The message was a reminder to students that fixing the world was not their mission, but they were obligated to help make it a better place.

The final part of the day involved a service component which sent the students to different local sites to assist with various projects. The sites included the KFAI community radio station, the East-African-run Sisterhood Boutique, the Augsburg-run food collection center (Campus Cupboard), the Center for American Islamic relationships Care Minnesota and Bethany Lutheran Church which partners with Augsburg for a number of faith-related events.

A final session concluded with a raffle and a tour of campus for students interested in seeing more of the university. The event, which has been held at Augsburg for the past several years, will return next year.

Interfaith Day of Action on 2/18. Photo by Emilie Tomas.

This article was originally published in the Feb. 22, 2019 issue.