In Kathmandu, the Global Peace Youth Corps Team was led by Runny. Throughout the week, GPYC club members engaged in lighthearted activities such as tag to explore various elements of faith, namely belief, hope, and harmony.
They first began by defining the term ‘faith.’ Though many took the subject matter seriously, some were understandably hesitant, and there were others who simply didn’t see the point. Among them, one member even asked why we should discuss faith at all, deeming such activities unnecessary.
But those who did feel comfortable sharing revealed thoughtful insights. Some said that they practice faith by staying optimistic and hoping for the best possibilities. Others, like Ashish, reaffirm their faith through traveling. For Ranju, faith manifests itself in the bonds of love she shares with her family and friends, while Pushkar defined faith as something that comes from deep within the instinctive, subconscious mind. These revelations demonstrated how vastly different faith can be from one person to the next. But, as Runny said, though we all come from different spiritual backgrounds, this doesn’t prevent us from working together in harmony.
One pivotal game that tested this theory involved creating a ‘faith runway.’ Participants do this by forming two rows of people, each row facing the other. They all lock arms with the person opposite them, creating an artificial barricade along the ‘runway’. The leader of the activity stands at the head of the obstructed pathway, preparing to pass through it. Once ready, this person calls out “I have faith in us!” and the rest respond, “Have faith!” With this affirmation, the leader takes off, trusting that her peers will lift their arms in time, clearing the runway as she traverses it. Thus the challenge demonstrates that sometimes, a little faith – in yourself, and in others – is all you need to help overcome life’s obstacles.
In theory, at least.
When Runny presented this activity to her group, she was met with skepticism. “What if I don’t want to remove my hands?” she was asked. “What if I don’t move them in time?” Runny was at a loss because ultimately, trust is a personal choice: one must decide whether or not to to risk relying on others in order to achieve certain goals — therein is the heart of these cooperative activities. Though being vulnerable with others can be intimidating, in doing so you gain newfound strength. Despite their doubts, they were able to do just that and the faith runway ran smoothly.
After completing these trust-building exercises, GPYC Nepal continued their Interfaith Harmony week with a cultural gathering day, complete with a ‘global fire,’ crafts, and theatrical skits. Although these events were intended to help groups reach out to their international neighbors of different faiths, Runny recognized that there is a wealth of cultures and ethnicities within Nepal itself.
As such, although students presented information they learned about other countries, Runny also encouraged them to dress up in their own traditional garb and educate peers about their personal heritage. What resulted was a beautiful display of cultural diversity, showing participants that we can learn important lessons from every culture.
Runny admits that the week’s activities weren’t as straightforward as those played during the Giving Games, but it was well worth it despite any initial reluctance. Group members learned to trust in themselves, their faith, and their peers, and in the process they were able to gain a newfound appreciation and respect for their differences.