Monday, October 2, 2017

   Fellow 2015 CTF Alumni John Taylor (left) joins Parvez (right) in speaking about CTF in Washington, DC.    






In our increasingly fractured nation, it is valuable to gather and go deeper in conversation; to take the time and find the space in which we can equally wrestle with challenges and find renewal to embrace opportunities. In that spirit, Initiatives of Change remains committed to nurturing sustained, honest conversations about the personal and structural transformations needed for communities to be fully whole. 

The Community Trustbuilding Fellowship, a program of Initiatives of Change, does just that. Held over five weekends in Richmond, VA, CTF develops the capacity of community leaders from around the U.S. to become authentic trustbuilders capable of overcoming divisions of race, culture, economics and politics. It nurtures multisector networks of facilitators and change agents committed to healing historical wounds, creating new shared narratives and building healthy equitable communities.

Parvez Khan was a Fellow in the 2015 CTF class and shared this first person perpective: 

IofC: Considering the distance to travel to Richmond VA, what led you to make the commitment to participate in the Community Trustbuilding Fellowship?

Parvez: Speaking with Rob and John about what this program would be about prior to the joining was the seal for me, because it gave the program credibility in my mind.  I have a Masters in organization development and coach nonprofit organizations leaders and top talent, so the value of the program really had to be made for me.  Obviously, they did convince me to join, and I am very happy I did.

IofC: Why was the Fellowship program a worthwhile experience for you?

Parvez: I was unaware of just how divided Richmond (and essentially America) really is.  In my diversity-strong bubble in DC and Northern Virginia, I don't see a lot of the history that others do and experience daily.  Not to say that I don't know what institutionalized racism is; there is a significant difference, though, in having observed some racist experiences and being thrown into a place where that is the lived norm on a daily basis.

 IofC: How are you applying what you have learned from your Fellowship experience in your community?

Parvez: I had set out to have a dialogue between Muslim and Jewish people in the DC area around the Israel/Palestine issue.  I have been met with silence on this, as no one wants to talk about it. This was a disappointment for me.  I am sad about it, and my interfaith and intercultural work continues. As a part of the Greater Washington Muslim-Jewish Forum, I have helped organized three Rabbi-Imam Summits and four Spread Hummus Not Hate bus tours.  We are speaking out against bigotry, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism like never before, as we realize we are in the midst of such renewed hate in the United States.

The work continues, and the skills and eye-opening realities from CTF were a great component in this fight for justice.



To hear other CTF Alums share their first person perspectives, view Speaking of…Community Trustbuilding Fellowship.