Washington, DC — The U.S.-based environmental organization EcoSikh presented at the Fifth Annual President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge at Howard University in Washington, DC. The conference, which began as a challenge by President Obama to invite institutions of higher education to commit to interfaith and community service, hosted several panels for students, young activist and educators.
Sumeet Kaur, U.S. Program Manager for EcoSikh, presented at the panel, which was made up of representatives from the Hindu and Christian faiths. The panel was moderated by Alexander Metcalf from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Kaur spoke about EcoSikh’s initiatives, such as the Green Gurdwara Guide, Green Nagar Kirtans, and engagement with youth. She also spoke about EcoSikh’s interfaith work, including a recent conference EcoSikh attended in which Kaur and India Program Manager, Ravneet Singh shared Guru Nanak’s teachings with a diverse audience. The conference and march was comprised of over 100 environmental activists from many faith traditions to send a compelling message of support to Pope Francis for this encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si.
When asked about the challenges of interfaith work, Kaur discussed the pluralist ideals of Sikhism and how the Sikh Gurus have taught to accept all faiths. She also spoke about the importance of working with interfaith partners. “Interfaith doesn’t mean everyone has to agree on everything, but it does mean that we must find common ground,” said Kaur. “Environmental issues are something every person should care about, and it’s through that motivation that we work toward our shared values.”
Panelists were also asked about how to get young people and students interested in environmental work. Starting early with educating children about the environment and providing opportunities for college students to take part in environmental activities for credit were two ways suggested by panelists.
The two-day conference invited top White House officials, faith representatives, and community service leaders to give calls to action for taking part in volunteer efforts. The second day came to end with University leaders and government officials motivating all students and young activists in attendance to work toward the goals they are passionate about.
For more about the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, click here.