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Pizza, Plays and researching ‘religion’

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The Faith & Belief Forum

26 / 02 / 18

I’m Maryam and I’m currently studying towards an MA in Postcolonial and Global Literatures at Queen Mary. I’ve lived in East London my whole life and I did an internship at 3FF in the summer of 2017 with the Schools team (aka the best team!).

I decided to get involved because I had just finished my undergraduate course and was looking to gain some practical experience. 3FF was a great fit for me because I wanted to be in a work environment but also a space that welcomes people of faith; it was nice to be in an interfaith space after being in a secular environment for so long.

I think the most important part of the work 3FF does is that it provides people with a space to talk about their faith and their own personal journeys without feeling alienated. At 3FF, I had the opportunity to observe school Linking days as well as learn some much needed admin skills. The other main thing I got to do was hold an event with the other interns. Working with them was one of the best things about the internship, we were a good team together and the event we pulled off was a great success for us. It was a good experience because I learned what it was like to be part of a great and supportive team and when the day for the event came, it felt like we did both the organisation and ourselves proud. It gave me a lot of confidence personally and professionally and I found myself becoming comfortable when doing things like networking (which I never imagined myself doing!).

Overall, being given the opportunity to put on my own event and seeing the way workshops work as alternative methods of educating made me realise that I’d love to work within creative learning. These experiences really helped me see what areas I’d like to work in after I leave university.

I’ve also been taking part in 3FF’s Pizza and Plays workshops since January 2018 which has been a great way for me to develop my own creative writing and use my faith as a source of inspiration. Creative writing and performing poetry isn’t something I’ve done before but since starting the project, it’s definitely something I’m itching to do. I’ve made good friends and I feel very supported by the people who make up 3FF – I definitely feel like I’ve found a community.

The most important thing in my life right now is probably my research dissertation for my MA. I’m working on the idea of ‘religion’ being a construct in western philosophical thought and how it’s also an act of translation. When we call Islam a ‘religion’ – what exactly do we mean by that word and where do those meanings come from? What kinds of debates are they generated from? I’m hoping to look at how colonial representations depicted people of faith particularly in the non-western world and how ‘religion’ is potentially a site of resistance to colonial discourses. So if you know of any books/texts/figures or have any opinions on this subject, don’t hesitate to get in touch. It’s a topic I’m excited to get stuck into and develop in the future but one where I haven’t had much luck finding material within my department, so I’d love to hear from you!

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