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The Daily Tar Heel

Peace is not to be without noise, trouble or hard work. It is to be among all of those and to remain calm in your heart.

That concept acknowledges the difficulty and the beauty in building relationships between groups with a tumultuous history.

Being on UNC’s campus and living in a diverse environment provides members of the Muslim and Jewish communities a unique opportunity to forge constructive relationships, spark dialogue between and within their respective religious traditions and find means of actively becoming pieces of this communal puzzle.

Jewish Muslim Artsfest

Building a Community: Peace by Piece
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Student Union, Great Hall

With this in mind, Muslim and Jewish students have organized the Jewish Muslim Artsfest, to be held at 6:30 p.m. tonight in the Great Hall.

Beginning as a small collaboration of Muslim and Jewish students interested in sharing their passion for art, Artsfest has now grown into an annual event attracting more than 150 people each year from a wide range of religious and cultural backgrounds.

The founding organizers of Artsfest did not arbitrarily choose art as the means to bring together these two communities.

Rather, they foresaw the impact that art can have in honestly and meaningfully presenting an atmosphere that directly touches those who are involved. The endeavor of molding art into a mode of interfaith connection is an undertaking more challenging and difficult than organizing a conventional “dialogue”.

We have seen firsthand, however, the powerful and positive impact of giving people in the Muslim Students Association and Hillel (the Jewish students’ organization) complete ownership of this event. It is through this hands-on approach that we have been able to grow and expand not only our size but our overall definition of art. Taking the time to work together with both organizations has allowed us to sustain the personal spirit of Artsfest.

This year, proceeds from Artsfest T-shirt sales will be donated to a local charity in hopes of furthering our impact on the greater Triangle community.

Artsfest is no longer “yet another” student event aimed at increasing the presence of interfaith activities on campus. It is now moving forward to channel the energy invested in organizing this event toward issues of social justice and community development.

While we understand that Artsfest is not the means for world peace, it can be a step forward toward creating an environment ripe for growth and change. In the coming years, we aim to incorporate service activities and focus groups in Artsfest to extend the relationships formed between members of the Jewish and Muslim communities.

Artsfest lays the cornerstone of community building on which we lay our hopes of growth. By taking a moment outside our respective organizations’ schedules and commitments to interact and inspire together, we find ourselves reflecting, renewing and rediscovering ideas, relationships and means for inner peace — as individuals and communities — piece by piece. We hope you join us in this unique opportunity to create and view art.

Sana Khan is a junior political science and history major from Raleigh. Victor Yamaykin is a senior international studies and economics major from Cary. E-mail Sana at sakhan@email.unc.edu and Victor at victory@unc.edu

 

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