More than 30 alumni of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Young Adults Training for Religious Amity programme gathered online over the last two weeks for a unique “Train the Trainers” event to equip former participants with the skills to organise interreligious dialogue and training in their own communities. The training, which brought together former participants from 2014-2019, included four webinars focussed on deepening interreligious awareness as well as developing leadership competencies in facilitation.
The event was a happy re-encounter for participants with their peers from their earlier residential experience of living and learning together which, according to one participant from Indonesia, gave them “a different lens and a different perspective … to look beyond my own faith, and to build bridges instead of walls.”
The “Train the Trainers” event was prepared and conducted by the WCC Young Adults Training for Religious Amity team.
Participants of Young Adults Training for Religious Amity 2019 organised in South Korea issued a “Call To Action” where they committed themselves to conducting interfaith meetings or training in their communities. In a recent survey among more than 100 Young Adults Training for Religious Amity alumni, over 70% indicated a need to “develop practical skills for interfaith dialogue and training methodologies” and the need for support in networking. The webinar provided a first platform to strengthen the alumni network.
“Transitioning from the role of participant to facilitator can be difficult,” said Rev. Dr Peniel Rajkumar, WCC programme coordinator for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation. “Identifying themes, planning the content, and facilitating a programme demand a different skills-set than the one for being a participant.”
The webinar contained sessions on the role of facilitators; methodologies for organising meetings; the importance of creating safe spaces for discussion and relationship building; listening skills and time management.
Apart from receiving an acknowledgement for their participation in the training event, all participants will have access to other tools and resources on interreligious dialogue and engagement through the Globethics learning platform. Participants evaluated the training as a very positive initiative, with one participant reiterating that that the event reaffirmed both “how important interfaith education is” and how “dialogue has to continue to the grassroots.”