Creating a global interfaith community by fostering discussion, awareness, and action.

Photo of Salma Kamni
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  • Education

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Date You Started Your Project Started

6/01/2019 (Converge Team recruitment; result is a youth-led team that spans dozens of U.S states, multiple countries, and numerous identities and religions) 8/31/2019 (Converge new online platform released, on the Islamic New Year-- a happy coincidence!)

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Religious intolerance is the most deadly issue humans have faced since the beginning of time. It has been used as a tool to wage wars, attack neighbors, and create loathing to our neighbors. It has caused over 50 million deaths, and the death toll continues to rise. Without solving this issue quickly, countries and religious groups will continue to have negative stereotypes about each other, affecting government, social, and physical safety.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Converge is an organization that provides a platform for interfaith discussion to minimize religious ignorance. The goal is to create a global community that is aware and accepting of other religions despite not interacting with them physically. Converge “Columns” are Op-eds that focus on modern issues from a religious lens. Readers come to Columns to read about different religious perspectives, ultimately expanding their awareness about other religions. In addition to columns, Converge hosts “Chats” (podcasts) with 2 people of different religious identities and how they approach a presented topic from different perspectives. Listening to people struggle to find common ground, and ultimately achieving it, is impactful to any type of listener. Converge “Create” amplifies creatives by featuring poetry and art from people of different religions. We do this because Art inspires emotions not elicited from simply reading or listening. Lastly, Converge creates local impact by helping change-making and passionate youth host physical interfaith events such as dinners, discussions, and workshops. Through these, Convergers can recognize how similar all of our morals and religious values are!

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

“Towel-head!” "Your country smells like a zoo." "Terrorist!" Desensitized, I shrugged those comments off. However, when my local mosque received bomb-threats online, I truly began to see my town. My diverse community, dubbed “Little Palestine”, was less than 5 minutes away from the neighboring Christian community. They avoided each other like the plague, and the dynamic is also seen at school. From calling areas where Muslims hang out “camel corners” to mocking shouts of “AllahuAkbar!” from my peers, I felt deeply saddened by the daily intolerance I encountered. I wondered, why is there a divide? I came up with two answers: One, no one is initiating discussions about our similarities. Second, the media misrepresents religious communities. Propelled by fear, in combination with my love for discussion, I created Converge and built interreligious bonds between 75,000+ people globally.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

Rough transcription in the Youtube video description for accessibility!

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Blessing lives in Nasarawa, Nigeria, and found Converge online. Living in a country that has an equal population of Muslims and Christians, she resonated with Converge’s mission of creating an interfaith society. While scrolling through the site, she found artwork featuring beautiful mosques, Hindus celebrating the colorful Holi festival, and Jews worshipping in Jerusalem. The columns featured on Converge featured insightful thoughts about hot-button topics from a religious lens--a side of the media that many don’t see. The podcast/discussion section was still in the works, but had a lot of promise, especially considering that people from different religions rarely come together to converse with each other! Blessing, inspired by the work that Converge does, emailed Salma, the founder, and asked to join the team! An application later, Blessing is now a writer for Converge!

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Converge is a rubber-band in a sea of paperclips. We stretch to every community through the online platform and help youth organize an event locally on a smaller scale. Paperclips are restrictive organizations that haven’t recognized youth are passionate and quickly mobilize for social good. Most organizations with our mission host interfaith events in their cities/communities. This is simply not enough--religious intolerance is present globally. Converge brings interfaith education, discussion, and action to a global scale through its online presence--something no organization has attempted.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

The essence of Converge has always been part of my life. I have been building interfaith relations for years: A TEDxSpeech that focused on religious and racial minorities, youtube videos that show a positive side of Islam, interfaith dinners and other projects I’ve led have educated 75,000+ people around the world. Converge’s new online platform has combined those three aspects of action, awareness, and education--creating a comprehensive and effective tool for building a global interfaith community. The new platform has already been viewed hundreds of times--and it is exponentially increasing! I have been contacted by people globally who are inspired and want to contribute to Converge’s mission because they see religious intolerance in their countries. Converge’s mission can truly resonate with millions, and I hope to reach all of these people in the future!

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Converge is rapidly growing because of our unique mission and the passion and grit of youth working behind it. One prospective project is a “Converge Toolkit”. A set of online resources that streamline the process of creating an interfaith event! We hope to translate it to different languages so that anyone globally (specifically youth!) can create an interfaith event despite language barriers! Second is the “Converge Conference”. I dream of this to be a place where people converge and listen to lectures of imams, pastors, rabbis, and talk about their religious perspectives! My ultimate goal is to have Converge materials and resources available at every educational institution around the world, to truly create a global interfaith community.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Marketing Strategy

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media

Evaluation results

28 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 32.1%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 14.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 17.9%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 7.1%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 28.6%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 39.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 21.4%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 10.7%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 7.1%

1 - This entry is weak here - 21.4%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 39.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 10.7%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 17.9%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 10.7%

1 - This entry is weak here - 21.4%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 13.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 13.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 20%

1 - This entry is weak here - 40%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 39.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 17.9%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 10.7%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 7.1%

1 - This entry is weak here - 25%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

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Team (3)

Monica's profile
Monica Para

Role added on team:

"Monica Para has been one of my greatest supporters throughout my changemaker journey. We are #steminists and #stemsisters! She's pushed me to be my best and has always cheered for me on all of my endeavors."

Salma's profile
Peter's profile
Peter Cao

Role added on team:

"Peter Cao is the Content Director at Converge. His passions for interfaith dialogue and research inspired him to join Converge, and now he is leading a global movement by generating content for people of all religions!"


Join the conversation:

Photo of Sanja Kirova

Salma! I appreciate and admire what you're doing to bring together people of different backgrounds. I especially appreciate the flexibility Converge brings "like a rubber band in a sea of paper-clips" because it truly shows its commitment to eliminating religious intolerance. Open-mindedness is certainly not an easy trait to acquire, but when open-minded and diverse individuals get together, a lot of learning happens! I wish your organization all the best.

Photo of Salma Kamni

Yes, the main aspect we wanted Converge to have was expandability so that no group is left out of the conversation! Thank you so much Sanja, I really appreciate your comment!

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