Converge

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

Photo of Salma Kamni
38 27

Written by

Additional categories (optional)

  • Education

Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

March 7th, 2002.

Help us stay in touch!

Number: (708) 228-0429, a T-mobile Customer! :-) Mailing Address: 20 Moorings Drive IL: Palos Heights (60465)

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

www.convergeinterfaith.org https://www.linkedin.com/company/converge-interfaith/ https://www.instagram.com/converge.interfaith/ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaeHAPtSAOEMwYMfEY6QXJw

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

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Middle Eastern or North African (for example: Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Syrian, Moroccan, Algerian) (11)
  • Self-identify race, ethnicity, or origin: (5)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Religious minority (non-Christian)

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

Sarah Raza, founder of Aware! In addition to Sarah, another friend of mine, Kyla Guru! Both are amazing individuals who are passionate, inspiring, and truly represent the youth as we deserve to be represented--as caring individuals who want to better our world.

Evaluation results

29 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 31%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 13.8%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 17.2%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 10.3%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 27.6%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 37.9%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 20.7%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 10.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 10.3%

1 - This entry is weak here - 20.7%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 37.9%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 10.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 20.7%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 10.3%

1 - This entry is weak here - 20.7%

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 - 26.7%

1 - This entry is weak here - 40%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 37.9%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 17.2%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 10.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 10.3%

1 - This entry is weak here - 24.1%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

View more

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!"

38 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Sanja Kirova
Team

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
Team

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!

Photo of Julia
Team

I am amazed to see fellow young people tackling such large scale problems. This is incredible work. I have seen the effects of religious intolerance and it is incredible to see you combat that. Wishing you all the best in your project!

Photo of Salma Kamni
Team

Thank you so much Julia!
I wish you the best on your project also--I'd love to partner up with you, our missions are quite compatible. Let me know if you'd be interested!

Photo of Carlos wiltron
Team

This is a beautiful project and very essential to the safety of our world. Unfortunately we have seen a spike of attacks on various religious groups , but I have hope this idea will bring peace within each group and allow us to understand each other more and more!

Photo of Salma Kamni
Team

I definitely agree with you Carlos. Thanks for your insight.
I just took a look at your project and I love the impact it will have! Love how you are targeting areas that are usually ignored!

Photo of Alexandra Slabakis
Team

Seriously, congratulations on an amazing effort to tackle religious intolerance. It is a huge issue and every little bit will help chip away at ignorance. I attend an all girls Catholic school and would be ready to partner in any way I can : )

Photo of Salma Kamni
Team

Hi Alexandra, thank you so much for your comment! You have no idea how much I appreciate it.
We are always looking for new perspectives at Converge, so if you would like to partner up or contribute in some way, definitely check out our website ( www.convergeinterfaith.org )!
I'd love to get a perspective like yours (someone who goes to an all-girls Catholic school) on our website! You can be featured on a future podcast or you can write a column or contribute artwork! Definitely let me know if you'd be interested!

Photo of Aaishah Elghobashy
Team

Can’t wait to see what converge does����

Photo of Salma Kamni
Team

Thanks Aaishah! I am excited for the projects we have in store for the future!

Photo of Samantha
Team

Absolutely love this modern solution to solve centuries of problems/misinformation! Way to go Salma!

Photo of Salma Kamni
Team

Thank you Samantha !
Yep, Converge is definitely tackling a huge issue, but I'm glad we have genuine and passionate individuals like you ready to support us! Thank you so much! :)

Photo of Tiffany Baltierra
Team

Your voice, your passion, and the community behind you is amazing. Your idea is unique and from the heart. Way to rock this world!

Photo of Salma Kamni
Team

Thank you so much Tiffany Baltierra ! The strength and passion I have for my project definitely is propelled by my community!
I'm glad that was recognizable. Thank you so much for your support!!

Photo of Malak Hamed
Team

Salma, I knew from when we were kids that you were going to do great things. Honestly, you’ve exceeded my expectations because this is incredible!! I know you and your program will be successful and have a great impact on the world.

Photo of Salma Kamni
Team

Thank you so much Malak for your heartwarming comment. I believe that Converge will be able to go far with people like you supporting us! Thank you so much!

Photo of Makia Sheikh
Team

Mashalalh! This is amazing. I am so proud of you and keep up the great work ❤️❤️❤️ No doubt you will make a difference

Photo of Salma Kamni
Team

Thank you so much Makia. Glad to have people like you supporting Converge's mission!

Photo of Dowlah A.
Team

Salma this is awesome, I believe this will have a great impact in our community and worldwide. With the determination you have, you are going to help so many people with your goal here. You are such a hard worker and there is no doubt all of your hard work will pay off. JazakAllahu Khairan!

Photo of Salma Kamni
Team

Thank you so much Dowlah! I appreciate you taking the time to comment and give us your insight into our project!

Photo of Minna E
Team

I’m so proud of you Salma ❤️ I’ve seen how much you’ve grown over the years and I couldn’t be more happy for you. May God reward you with all your efforts

Photo of Salma Kamni
Team

Thank you so much Minna! Glad to have you cheering me on ❤️

Photo of Tala Alrifaiy
Team

Great work Salma, and I can't wait to see you succeed and make this global. Knowing your hard work and dedication you'll be a great influence and show fantastic work ethic! Keep up the good work and may Allah brighten your path.

Photo of Salma Kamni
Team

Thanks Tala! I also definitely can't wait to see Converge expanding more globally! (We've already reached many countries, but hopefully someday we will be able to make an impact in every community around the world!)
JazakAllahu Khairan for your beautiful comment Tala! :)
(To those who are unfamiliar, JazakAllahu Khairan means "May God reward you with goodness"!)

Photo of Roqaeh Ali
Team

So proud of you Salma! I have no doubt that this online platform will help many people around the world and in our community. I couldn’t think of a better person to start this discussion in our town. Your amazing love for all and need to ensure that everyone feels welcome will help change the world!

Photo of Salma Kamni
Team

Thank you Roqaeh for your support and affirmations. You have no idea how much I rely and appreciate support from you!
Thank you for the wonderful comment! :)

Photo of Yousef Ahmed
Team

Salma, your work is incredibly inspiring, and I can’t wait to see where Converge will go in the future!

Photo of Salma Kamni
Team

Thanks Yousef! Glad I have people like you supporting Converge's mission!

Photo of Balquis Abdulla
Team

First of all, this is amazing and the whole concept behind it is awesome and inspiring. Incredible work Salma, you are making the world a better place and making all types of people feel accepted and listened to is the first step. Salma, you are an amazing person and seeing this is beautiful and inspiring. I hope to see you succeed and hope that Converge grows as to be as you dreamed and more!!

Photo of Salma Kamni
Team

Thank you Balquis for your kind words, I appreciate you taking the time to comment your thoughts about Converge!
I hope that Converge benefits you and creates a positive impact in your community and beyond, thank you so much!

Photo of Imaan Ali
Team

Omg!!! This is absolutely amazing Salma. I hope your new platform brings the best and becomes a successful and known platform throughout the globe. HATS OFF TO YOU SALMA :) I’m so happy I met you !!!

Photo of Salma Kamni
Team

Thank you so much Imaan!
I'm glad we both hope for it to be a known platform all over the globe--that's currently the plan! I really appreciate your comment and support, thank you so much!

Photo of Justina Chua
Team

I'm so proud to personally know Salma -- she is such a genuinely kind human being and deeply passionate in all that she does and stands for. There's no doubt in my mind that Converge will succeed and grow with her behind it. I'm looking forward to seeing Converge expand their platforms, impact people around the world, and create a warm, diverse community of open-minded individuals who are accepting of all religions and cultures. Salma, thank you for addressing such an important issue our world faces today. You never fail to amaze me. <3

Photo of Salma Kamni
Team

Justina, thank you so much! I appreciate those kind words and I am genuinely so happy to have you supporting Converge's mission. I have no doubt in my mind that you will be successful with everything that you do--you have the grit, passion, and kindness for it! Thank you again!

Photo of Laurel Prime
Team

Love how Converge believes in breaking barriers!

Photo of Salma Kamni
Team

Thanks, I love how AGORA believes so strongly in connectivity!

Photo of Shivali Gulati
Team

Love this idea!

Photo of Salma Kamni
Team

Thank you Shivali Gulati !