By Nicki Totiyapungprasert
Prior to moderating the Interfaith Webinar, I was admittedly a bit nervous. I had never moderated a webinar before and wanted to make sure the first one would go smoothly. AMP Global Youth was utilizing Zoom, a video conference app, and something I wasn’t initially familiar with. Luckily, it turned out well. I think having prior experience running Model UN committees helped me ease into the experience gradually.
We wanted to make sure discussion questions could reflect on recent news events. With a lot of this anti-Muslim tension in today’s political climate, it was important to get the thoughts of the speakers and why interfaith understanding can be used as a tool to fight against it.
We had a number of people tuning in and our speakers, Firas Arodaki and Jess Kent, were phenomenal. Firas is a Syrian-American activist in California and Jess is an Interfaith Youth Core Fellow. Both have been involved in interfaith work for a while and presented unique perspectives.
Both speakers agreed the key to fighting against Islamophobia was education and having an open mind. Firas mentions the importance of “getting to the roots of the issue”. The speakers recommend being more pro-active through grassroots work and pushing for better interfaith education in schools.
Of course, many would wonder how youth activists, how students on campus could get more involved and where they could start. Jess recommended finding a good mentor such as a professor and seeking out relevant departments.
I felt where it didn’t go well was time constraints to have it done in an hour. The speakers had much to say in response to the questions but I also wanted to make sure audience members could have a chance to speak if they wished to. I would also recommend having people send in questions in the chat during the webinar or by email prior with potential questions in case there is an issue with mics or shyness. I want the webinar experience to be open for everybody and understand why somebody who has not participated in an online webinar might feel uncomfortable.
I enjoyed moderating the experience and would highly recommend for people to attend one. I learned it was especially important to make connections on campus and stand up when there is misinformation is being spread.
Thank you again to all those who have attended the webinar. Let us know if you have any further thoughts you’d like to share.