Interfaith Youth Core train campus leaders, faculty

Ryan D. Beardsley, Staff Writer

Marywood University students were recently given a lesson in the power of interfaith cooperation and community service.

Dozens of students and student leaders from around campus gathered Sept. 20 to attend a training session hosted by two members of the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) based in Chicago. A workshop for faculty was also held earlier in the day.

IFYC is a community support organization that aims to unite young people across the world, regardless of faith or religious views. IFYC has been working with the White House in regards to President Barack Obama’s call to colleges and universities to make interfaith cooperation and community service a priority in the 2011-2012 academic year.

Marywood University is one of 250 colleges and universities in the country that has decided to participate in the effort.

Hind Makki, IFYC leadership associate, said one of her goals for hosting the training session was to introduce students to the idea of interfaith cooperation.

“We want to first explain to students what it is and what it is not,” Makki said. “We also hope to show the students what it could look like incorporated right here on Marywood’s campus.”

It’s important for students to understand the importance of interfaith cooperation and how it affects religious diversity, Makki said. IFYC would like to see interfaith cooperation and community service become the standard on campus at Marywood University, instead of the exception.

“We’re always trying to get students to understand how they can use their time here to not only benefit their community, but also benefit their own futures as well,” Makki said. “We want them thinking about what major issues require action in their community.”

Katie Baxter, IFYC campus improvement manager, said Marywood’s mission and core values relate to what IFYC and the White House are looking for in colleges and universities around the country.

She noted that new students are required to read “Acts of Faith” by Eboo Patel. He is the IFYC founder and president, and a member of President Obama’s inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships.

By reading Patel’s book, students introduce themselves to the organization’s goals, one of which is working together through different religions and faiths to serve the community.

“We did a lot of work around how interfaith relates to Marywood, and found that it links up well with our efforts,” Baxter said. “Marywood already has a strong commitment to community service, so we’re finding that our missions coincide pretty strongly.”

Katie Zwick, a junior illustration major and a resident advisor, attended the training because she felt it was important, as a student leader, to learn more about benefiting the community.

“We try to stay as up to date on the information as possible,” Zwick said.

“A lot of people come to us looking for information,” added Emily Fillman, a senior speech pathology major. “So it’s good to attend things like this so you can provide the answers when asked.”

Rachel Lawrick, a junior Art Education major at Marywood, said she’s interested to see if interfaith cooperation will be implemented on campus and what changes it could cause. Lawrick said that community service as “a whole” on campus is important, but she wanted more information on the subject.

“I want to see what opportunities might become available by participating in it,” Lawrick said. “This seems to be an important thing on campus right now.” For more information on Marywood’s interfaith cooperation and community service efforts, visit the Swartz Center for Spiritual Life. More information about IFYC can be found at