[gha] International interfaith conference (IIC 2014)

  • From: hisaleem@xxxxxxx
  • To: gha@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 17 Feb 2014 01:18:44 -0500 (EST)

Dear Leo, Bruce, and GHA members,

I thank Leo for agreeing for GHA to join as a co-sponsor of IIC 2014, and I 
thank Bruce for agreeing to present a paper summarizing GHA's experience -- its 
successes and challenges -- in promoting interfaith dialog and cooperation. 
Unfortunately, you'll have only 10 minutes for this summary. Thanks for your 

While plans for this conference are moving along well, we thought it might be 
advisable to seek feedback from potential participants regarding some choices 
we can offer. Here is how our draft announcement currently runs:

                International Interfaith Conference and Workshops
Honolulu, HI, August 30 to September 6, 2014
All Believers Network (Belnet)
Department of Religion, University of Hawaii (UH)
Milun (Association for Promoting South Asian Culture)
While poets and philosophers often opine it is the same God in all religions, 
devotees often opine theirs is the only true God. Can the twain meet?
Join us in exploring this challenging paradox. We will do this by discussing 
the extent to which perceptions of God/Transcendental Consciousness/Revered 
One/Reality are similar across significantly “dissimilar” 
Religions/Philosophies/Spiritual Paths/and Ways. The 350+ responses we have 
received thus far to our “Perceptions Survey” (Attachment 1) – enriched by 
responses we hope to receive to this announcement   – will help set the pace. 
We will also explore possible similarities underlying perceived dissimilarities 
in rituals, symbols, and sacred foods across religions. Our workshops on 
enhancing mediation, leadership, and public speaking skills might equip us to 
develop roadmaps for “walking the talk”. And our interfaith curriculum 
development session might help us design suitable service projects -- including 
those involving creative and performing arts and children. Finally, a 110-mile 
field trip around Oahu’s scenic and cultural spots, culminating with the 
Polynesian Cultural Center’s spectacular show weaving folklore with “Ha” 
(breath of life), will help strengthen camaraderie and re-energize us to 
undertake the service projects we design.  This mutual learning process, it is 
hoped, might re-kindle the question whether followers of faith-based religions 
are on converging paths to the same Destination.
Our meeting will move from the University of Hawaii’s Shidler Hall auditorium 
to the Ala Moana Beach Park’s McCoy Pavilion during September 2-5, when classes 
will be in full swing on UH campus; also when we’ll need a more informal 
atmosphere for our workshops.
Registration cost
(a) For overseas participants: $700. This will include daily shuttle between  
selected Waikiki hotels and conference venues; daily “picnic style” buffet 
lunch for seven days, with participants eating either at concrete benches in 
the building’s courtyard or on the lawn (might become “adventurous” if it 
rains); conference proceedings;  circle-island field trip; admission to the 
Polynesian Cultural Center; and three dinners (welcome dinner on August 29; 
Polynesian Cultural Center dinner on Sept. 2; and farewell dinner on Sept. 6). 
Our dedicated volunteers enable us to keep costs down.
Your additional costs: Your airline tickets, US visa (if needed),  hotel 
charges (approximately $120 per night (including tax)  for single/double 
occupancy), taxi from the airport to the hotel and back (from $15 one way for 
shuttle service to $50+for private taxi), daily breakfast (a tea/coffee  maker 
will be provided in each Ohana Waikiki West Hotel room), dinners on the 
remaining  nights, and incidental expenses. We suggest you also buy flight 
insurance, including hospitalization.

(b) For Hawaii participants: (i) For the full 7-day program (excluding shuttle 
service): $350(subsidized); (ii) For 4 days at Shidler (including daily lunch 
but excluding shuttle service and other activities): $125 (subsidized).  
Registration and other links
Our maximum participant size, based on auditorium capacity, is 170, of which 50 
seats will be reserved for Hawaii participants. Any unfilled seats in either 
quota on July 17 will be allotted to any wait-listed individuals on the other 
side, in the order received. Thus, please register early with t $100 
non-refundable deposit. We thank those who have already indicated an expression 
of interest. Their response to these additional questions will be most helpful. 
The following links will become operational shortly. We'll advise you when that 
Press here to take our survey on Perceptions of the Reality in Various 
Religions (Attachment 1).
Press here to register for the conference and pay the $100 non-refundable 
deposit (Attachment 2).
Press here to provide feedback on mediation, communication, leadership skills 
needs (Attachment 3).

We are inviting Hawaii’s Governor Neil Abercrombie; Hawaii’s Representative to 
the U.S. Congress  Tulsi  Gabbard; and Hawaii State Senator Suzie Chun Oakland 
as guest speakers.
In keeping with Hawaii’s aloha spirit, informal/aloha attire is all that you’ll 
need for our programs and dinners. You might bring a light sweater because of 
air conditioning in our meeting rooms and restaurants. Outside temperature 
range: 75- 85 degrees F (24-29 degrees C); occasional light showers.
Additional questions?
Please send your queries to all these three addresses: NeemSaleem@xxxxxxxxx,  
HiSaleem@xxxxxxx and info@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. We look forward to your 
participation in making this a meaningful mutual learning experience for us all.
We also invite your organization to join us in co-sponsoring the program. This 
involves no financial obligation; only an expression of support for the 
program’s objectives. Aloha.

Here are some alternative ways to handle the program:

1. Have a three-day conference with an optional 3 days  for workshops and an 
optional day for field trip;

2. Have only the conference, make it a 5-day event to enable more papers to be 
presented and more time spent on designing a follow-up program.

3. There might be some other way that you can suggest.

Additional questions
1. Do you like the idea of the three workshops? What alternative topics, if 
any, will you suggest?
2. Do the costs appear reasonable?
3. Approximately how many people do know might attend?

We will be comfortable with whichever alternative appears to suit most people. 
We will greatly appreciate a speedy response from all.

Thanks! and with much aloha
Saleem Ahmed

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