Wednesday, August 17, 2011

From the Intern Files: Finding my Place in the Mosaic

by Project Interfaith Intern, Tony Pojar

I originally heard about Project Interfaith through an acquaintance at the “Big Omaha” event where I was volunteering. I had never heard of the organization before and I’ll admit I was a little apprehensive as I have no strong feelings toward religion. I was raised Catholic. I attended Catholic and Jesuit institutions all my life but since college I’ve felt out of step with my faith; like I was just going through the motions and not getting anything out of it. That is when I started looking for something else to fill the void. I have discovered that I favor the ways of Zen Buddhism; I enjoy taking time to meditate and self reflect. I also practice yoga to relieve stress and center myself. I wouldn’t say that I am set in stone yet, so I will continue to embark on my spiritual journey until I feel at home or reach enlightenment, whichever comes first.

Despite my initial reservation, my ultimate decision to intern with Project Interfaith is simple really. Project Interfaith fulfills two of my passions: one is my passion for video production and design, and the second is my passion for learning. I was brought on at the end of June as a video editor intern. I am responsible for editing the interviews for the Community Mosaic Video Project (CMVP). Through this position I have been able to get a first-hand look at how Project interfaith actively works to achieve their mission: Project Interfaith grows understanding, respect and relationships among people of all faiths, beliefs and cultures. The CMVP only furthers this mission (check it out!). The stories that I have encountered have been both interesting and eye opening.

Since graduating from Creighton University back in 2010, I have been missing the educational atmosphere so much I've been ravenous for learning. I’ve even started reading, of all things, Emergency Medicine books! But my position with Project Interfaith gives me the opportunity to learn while I'm working; allowing me to expand my knowledge of world religions (again, my favorite so far is Buddhism). One of the key objectives for Project Interfaith is teaching the public and bringing awareness about the diversity among and within different religions. In my work with the videos, I can see that there is a wide range of diversity within even the same religious group. I'll admit I came with my own preconceived notions and opinions about certain groups. But now that I have heard individuals’ stories I have a better understanding about the different practices of people ranging from the conservative to the liberal. It’s actually really interesting to see this; it’s one of those things so often overlooked in today’s society where we are only shown the extreme sides by the media.

Among the benefits of the Community Mosaic Video Project is that it provides an opportunity for people to learn things that they may have misunderstood or altogether didn’t know about a certain group. And in my opinion, the key for this to work is that people are going to have to be open and willing to listen while setting aside all of their preconceived notions and stereotypes.
As I continue working on the CMVP, I expect to learn more about people's personal beliefs and practices. As I grasp a greater understanding I hope to become an example of the success of Project Interfaith's mission. I look forward to continuing being involved with Project Interfaith and being able to see the CMVP through to the end. We've got some really exciting plans coming together with some awesome people working on their execution, so stay tuned for an event near you.

Tony graduated from Creighton University in 2010 with degrees in Graphic Design & Advertising as well as specializing in Video Production. He was the first student to achieve the level of Apple Certified Final Cut Studio Master Pro. He is currently assisting with the Community Mosaic Video Project as a video editing intern during the summer of 2011. He has made peace with his inner design geek and will not hesitate to yell out Command-Z every time something goes wrong. In his spare time he enjoys photography, camping, cooking and listening to Disney songs.

Project Interfaith's Community Mosaic Video Project will launch in January 2011. To stay on top of its progress and other Project Interfaith programs, subscribe to the Project Interfaith listserve at

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