The kickoff symposium luncheon for the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge took place today at 12:00 p.m. in Copley Formal Lounge, officially announcing and recognizing Georgetown as one of 278 universities nationwide that has heeded to Barack Obama’s call for American institutions of higher learning to devote their resources to promoting harmony and justice in their own communities and beyond.
The Challenge, as explained in its brochure, calls for universities to “commit to a year of interfaith and community service programming on campus.” And although its title specifically refers to tolerance and community between those with differing religious beliefs, the Georgetown community plans to focus its resources on, according to a brochure from the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, “combating domestic poverty and improving educational opportunity.”
“This issue [of education] is especially salient to us at Georgetown,” Aamir Hussain (COL ’14), a member of the Georgetown Challenge Student Task Force, said during his speech at the luncheon. “While the institutions of higher education are among the best in the nation, the public school system is one of the worst.”
The idea of education as a core component of community service as well as being closely related to interfaith understanding was one that was shared and discussed by most of the 7 guest speakers at the luncheon. Among them were two representatives from the Department of Education, Director of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Reverend Brenda Girton-Mitchell and Methodist Minister and Senior Advisor of FBNP Ken Bedell.