La Convivencia to hold conference on March 24 at Princeton University

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Peaceful coexistence among different religions and cultures should be encouraged.

That is the goal of a conference that will be sponsored by La Convivencia at Princeton University on March 24.

The conference, which runs from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Princeton University’s Friends Center at 65 Olden St., will feature a keynote speaker and a keynote panel discussion focusing on the conference’s main theme, which is “Social Justice, Faith, Diversity and Hope – Together We Rise.”

The translation of “La Convivencia” is “to coexist,” which is what the nonprofit group seeks to encourage through dialogue and the seeking of common ground.

“Considering the current racial, religious and ethnic divisiveness in our nation and communities, it is time to come together on common ground to build inclusive communities,” said Tasneem Sultan, a co-founder of La Convivencia and its executive director.

The conference is a good way to meet people and make new friends, the event organizers said. It will help to create greater understanding across cultures and religions by sharing common values.

Meanwhile, the afternoon’s keynote speaker is Rachel Wainer Apter, the director of the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights. She will discuss the rise in bias incidents and what the state Office of Civil Rights is doing to combat it.

The panel discussion, which features representatives from the Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Baha’i faiths, will be moderated by the Rev. Cornell Edmonds of the Church of the Covenant in New York City, and Barbara Ingram-Edmonds.

Following the discussion panel, attendees can chose from among several workshops – from one on 21st-century policing led by Princeton Police Chief Nicholas Sutter and West Windsor Township Police Chief Robert Garofalo, to one that discusses the impact that religious groups can have on social justice movements such as prison reform and immigration rights.

There is a workshop that addresses the LGBTQIA community, and a special workshop for young people that will help them learn how to ask questions of their peers to encourage discussion. They will learn how they can bring about positive changes in their communities.

The youth workshop will be led by Jack Tironi, a student at Drew University, and Bilal Sultan, who is a co-founder of La Convivencia. He is a sophomore at West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North.

La Convivencia grew out of Bilal’s National History Day project in 2015. While researching a project for National History Day, he learned about the medieval period in Spain – from 1711 to 1492 – when Muslims, Christians and Jews lived and worked together peacefully inn a multi-cultural country.

La Convivencia’s second annual conference will wrap up with a community service project, in which attendees can help to make personal hygiene kits to be distributed to under-served families in the area.

To register for the conference, visit https://laconvivencia.org/annual-conference.html.