Wednesday, June 4, 2014

"Getting Excited About Giving Back"

Amanda Ryan's submission to Metro Magazine's "Getting Excited About Giving Back" contest.

Click here to cast your vote for Amanda's story and help Project Interfaith win $1,000!

Want to know what gets me excited? Well let me tell you... I love waking up in the morning and knowing that I will not be persecuted, discriminated against, or a victim of a hate crime due to my religious beliefs. Knowing that Omaha is safe for me to practice whatever I believe in, is a reassuring and comforting feelings I have about our community.

Unfortunately, not everybody has this privilege. Some people wake up knowing that they are not welcomed or accepted due to their religious and spiritual beliefs. Often times these feelings are due to people being misinformed about other's religious and spiritual beliefs due to misconceptions and stereotypes being portrayed through media and unreliable sources on the internet. Other times, simply not knowing somebody of a different belief system leads people to hold prejudices against people that are different.

It is essential that our community continues to be a welcoming and open place for all people. That is why I volunteer for Project Interfaith. This organization is undoubtedly one of the best organizations that promotes religious and spiritual diversity within our community. Project Interfaith gives community members the opportunity to connect with people different from themselves, allowing Omaha to break down stereotypes.

By holding events such as "Speed Dialogues" where community members answer questions about faith and religion to complete strangers, or creating "Conversation Kits" that allow people anywhere to hold eye-opening conversations about faith in their own communities, Project Interfaith closes the gap between people with differing views.

Project Interfaith also serves as a beacon for reliable educational resources on different religions and belief systems. Anybody can go to and view the educational resources to learn about many different religions, combating those misconceptions and stereotypes.

But what really sets Project Interfaith apart from all others is Ravel Unravel, the organization's multimedia website. Ravel Unravel allows people from all over the world to share what their religious or spiritual beliefs mean to them. It gives multiple voices to the diversity that is religion. This truly groundbreaking program can be used in high school and university classrooms to discuss what the diversity of a certain religion or belief system looks like, stereotypes, and how welcoming and accepting different areas of the country and world are to different religions.

These types of innovative, exciting programs and resources are an instrumental force in breaking down barriers between people, and something that I feel is completely unique to Omaha; that is why I volunteer for Project Interfaith and feel they are worthy of this donation. I believe this organization is only beginning to touch on what they can do in Omaha and around the world, and am excited to see how far they can spread. I encourage everybody to visit Project Interfaith's website and to learn more about this organization and how you can help break down barriers as well! Thank you!

Click here to cast your vote for Amanda's story and help Project Interfaith win $1,000! 

Amanda Ryan is a former intern and current volunteer for Project Interfaith. She graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with her Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies in December. Starting in September, Amanda will be attending the University of Denver to pursue her Master's degree in Religious Studies with a concentration in multicultural and international studies. In her spare time, Amanda enjoys spending time outside and many hours this summer will be spent near a pool with a book in hand.

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