Be Better Together on 9/11
MSA National is partnering with Interfaith Youth Core to develop an interfaith service campaign, “Be Better Together for 9/11”. The concept of a national campus interfaith service project for the 10th memorial of 9/11 was initiated by MSA National, an umbrella organization of Muslim Student Association chapters across the nation. MSA National then approached Interfaith Youth Core to provide expertise in interfaith service as well as support functions for the project such as marketing and communications. Other collaborating organizations include Repair the World, Hindu American Seva Charities, Young Jains of America, World Sikh Council, and Presbyterian Church USA.
Project Overview and Community Impact
Be Better Together for 9/11 is an opportunity for students on campuses around the country to join together in a day of interfaith service and conversation. Collaborating organizations will encourage their constituents to work together on community service projects on campuses all across the nation. Activities may include cleaning up a local park, spending the day on campus packing meals for a relief organization, or building a Habitat house in the community.
This campaign aims to bring together students of different religious and non-religious identities to serve our community and reflect on what inspires each of us to make the world a better place. When so many people say religion can only divide us, students on campuses around the country will prove something different. In the spirit of President Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, we feel interfaith service is the perfect banner to unite college students of all backgrounds.
Some of our goals for the project include:
- Honor the first responders and other heroes by, in some sense, channeling their spirit of selflessness and sacrifice to give back to our communities
- Create a culture of volunteerism and service among college students
- Encourage interfaith, outreach, and dialogue among students of diverse backgrounds
The number of volunteers expected
MSA National has more than 200 affiliates across the U.S. and Canada. This being the inaugural year of the campaign, our goal is to have at least 50 campuses across the nation engaged in interfaith service through this effort. The total number of volunteers expected to participate would be 1,000 students (average of 25 students per campus).
Volunteers will be tracked by asking each campus to register using a central database and online Google/Wufoo form. Each campus will be asked to submit the number of participating students and campus organizations, as well as photos from the event.
What volunteers are expected to accomplish through their service
Through their service, volunteers will pay tribute to the victims and heroes of 9/11. Campaigns on each campus will open with an acknowledgement of the solemnity of the event (e.g., moment of silence, why we are Better Together, and what it means to be serving together on the 10th memorial of September 11).
We also hope participating students will gain an appreciation for community service and working with people of different backgrounds. This campaign is not intended to be solely for the 10th memorial of 9/11. Our larger goal is to encourage students and campus organizations of diverse backgrounds to develop long-term partnerships and a commitment to unite on service. As an example of how this can be accomplished, participants will be asked to facilitate reflection by encouraging students to continue the conversation around “being Better Together” while they work. The campaign encourages students to make time for more intentional reflection, either at the service site or on campus at the end of the project, and consider including small group discussions of the following questions:
- Why did you choose to participate in this event?
- Share a story about your experience on or after 9/11 and what have you personally done to forge relationships with those different from you.
- Share something that’s moved you to care about the service work you’re doing today.
- What is your religious or non-religious identity and what does your tradition say that speaks to why or how you should address the importance of today’s service project?
- Have you tried to live these ideas out? How?
- Name one thing you think we could accomplish on [your service issue] if we all worked together, inspired by our different perspectives?
- Why do you think the work that we’re doing today is particularly important in light of the 10th memorial of September 11?
Information about how you will promote the Day of Service and Remembrance.
All participants will receive a toolkit explaining the event and its relationship to the Day of Service and Remembrance. In addition, other communication efforts will also reference this.