Building bridges of understanding in high school

Swami Anjani, a member of the Kashi Ashram Cooperation Circle, was invited to speak last month at a high school interfaith event in Vero Beach, Florida. Below is her report. 

On April 22nd St. Edward’s School presented “Finding Common Ground: An Interfaith Conversation.”  The event was the brainchild of the Breaking Barriers Club, which is comprised of ten high school teenagers. Their President and Founder, Sana Shareef, will be entering her senior year in the fall.


The panel consisted of  Swami Anjani, from Kashi Ashram; Rev. Robert Baggott, Community Church; Rabbi Michael Birnholz, Temple Beth Shalom; Fr. Dennis Gonzales, St. Helen Church; Claudia Jimenez, Unitarian Universalist fellowship; Iman Khalid Latif, Chaplain at NYU and the NYC Police Dept; and Dr. John Esposito, Professor of Religion & International Affairs, Georgetown University.

Swami Anjani (far right) spoke at the Breaking Barriers Club.

After Sana Shareef set the tone with her opening remarks, each panelist spoke in turn. Imam Latif’s passion for Interfaith dialog and understanding brought the audience to its feet, followed by Dr. Esposito’s equally inspiring keynote address. The speakers then reconvened as a panel to respond to questions from the audience.

I was deeply moved by the emphasis on love and the focus on embracing all the amazing paths to God.I was inspired by the “call to action’ voiced by many of our panelists: it is not a time to take a back seat and allow hatred and suspicion to rule the hearts of our neighbors. We must put ourselves out there, one conversation at a time.

I am grateful to this group of young people for taking a stand and inviting us all along.