On March 1 the Hope Not Hate Innovators visited Special Representative Farah Pandith at the State Department. Rep Pandith is the first person to occupy the office of Representative to Muslim Communities, appointed by Secretary Clinton in 2009. An extraordinary woman, Rep Pandith is an American Muslim of Indian heritage, who has a background working in the White House and in other roles within the State Department. Read more about her here: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/biog/125492.htm
The Innovators met with Rep Pandith for over an hour engaging on issues of doing interfaith work, distinguishing between syntaxes such as ‘Muslims’ and ‘Muslim World,’ and discussing ways to change their communities for the better. One of the conversations that came up is being mindful of not letting interfaith work to propagate an ‘us and them’ mentality.
Another lesson we learned was you don’t need to reinvent the wheel in making positive change, take advantage of programs and networks that are out there. What you do want to do is “connect the nodes.” Find the existing communities, think about your contacts, and bring it all together to make it happen.
One of our challenges moving forward with the program will be taking these lessons back into the community.