Interfaith Encounters Alternative Break
is an exciting and transformative weeklong experience offered by the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia for college students who wish to acquire an understanding of major world religions, dialogue with members of these faith communities and serve the communities with them. Over six days, participants encounter such divergent faiths as Buddhism, Islam and Baha’i, attending worship services and interacting in the Greater Philadelphia region.
Through structured workshops and reflection sessions, students experience personal growth by confronting their preconceived notions, which are then transformed into a deeper respect for “the other” which goes beyond mere “tolerance”. In the words of one participant, “Whereas once I had a closed mind, I am now open to working with other faiths. I have left my ignorance and entered into a new knowledge.”
Self-discovery is a large part of this Alternative Break program, as noted by another student who said “the experiences made me realize who I really am”. From tutoring children in significantly challenged neighborhoods, to working in food pantries and feeding the hungry, students experience the shared value of caring for the disadvantaged among us, a notion which is upheld in each faith. “I built a stronger faith in my own religion while also building strong bonds with my brothers and sisters of different religions”.Interfaith Encounters Alternative Break helps prepare participants to take their place as knowledgeable citizens and leaders in a global, multi-faith and multi-cultural society.