Unlocking the leadership potential in young South Africans

Face to Face | Faith to Faith

Face to Face/Faith to Faith is an interfaith youth leadership programme that works annually with 32 teenagers from South Africa to engage in dialogue and interactive activities relating to issues of peace, reconciliation, violence and social responsibility. This is with a 10 day summer intensive programme at a residential campsite in Cape Town. The programme works to enhance participants’ knowledge and understanding of their own faith traditions; cultures and people; inform participants about their responsibility as South Africans; and increase participants’ ability to collaborate across lines of religion, culture, gender, class and ethnicity to facilitate the development of our country and the empowerment of the youth.

The program works to enhance participants’ knowledge and understanding of their own faith traditions; nurture an advanced understanding of other religions, cultures and people; inform participants about the call of religious teachings to engage in public and world issues; and increase participants’ ability to collaborate across lines of religion, culture, class and ethnicity to make a better world.

Face to Face/Faith to Faith began in 2001 and takes its name and inspiration from the biblical text Genesis 33:10 (“For truly to see your face is like seeing the face of God,”), in which Jacob and his estranged brother, Esau ¬ the twin sons of Isaac — reconcile.

In that spirit, Auburn Theological Seminary, a leader in multifaith programming, and Seeking Common Ground, a youth-based peace organization with programs for youth in the Middle East and the United States, have combined their expertise to produce a multifaith youth leadership program. Face to Face/Faith to Faith is rooted in the belief that young people of different religious faiths and nationalities can find common ground despite differences of religion and culture – something that is particularly necessary in the wake of terror and conflict around the world.

While at the intensive summer program, participants will have the opportunity to learn more about their own faith and the faiths of others. Daily workshops combine religious study, leadership and peace building. The program encourages participants to build interpersonal relationships through dialogue, art, creative play, and music programs interspersed throughout the day. Evening programs and guest performers, representing various cultures, add to the transformative atmosphere.

Following the summer intensive, participants will return home and continue to utilize and develop communication and leadership skills learned during the summer program. In addition to engaging in continued interfaith dialogue, they will devise and implement activities in their home communities designed to promote social justice, interfaith understanding and reconciliation.

Expected Outcomes & Long Term Benefits

  • Learn leadership skills that promote self-esteem and allow participants to become contributing members of their communities;
  • Acquire communication skills that teach youth to listen with the intent of deeply understanding the ‘other’ side’s perspective and to speak so that the other side can ‘hear’ their narrative;
  • Understand the universality of conflict by learning about the conflicts presented in the societies represented and that a global perspective is a useful tool in approaching their own conflicts;
  • Experience diversity in a safe and positive setting that helps break down stereotypes and see the humanity in the other side, thereby promoting alternatives to violence;
  • Exposure and exchange of dialogue about faith as a source for peace not war.