Dharma Ambassadors Program: Become your community’s expert representative of Hinduism
The Dharma Ambassadors program is an initiative to train community members to become effective and confident representatives of Hinduism - regardless of sampradaya - in the broader community. This program was launched by HAF, but includes partners representing different sampradayas and organizations.
A Dharma Ambassador is an active participant in their local community. As a Dharma Ambassador, you will be equipped to handle the ins and outs of presenting about Hinduism. And you will be prepared to promote an authentic narrative from within the Hindu community to ensure that our religion is taught accurately and on par with other religions.
By the end of the program, you will:
- Gain simple and effective techniques on how to present Hinduism to non-Hindus
- Learn how to handle questions about sensitive topics
- Get access to visually engaging, professionally created presentation materials from HAF
- Find out how to get plugged into your local community for speaking opportunities, including schools, interfaith discussions, and other community gatherings
- Alert HAF to inaccurate teaching materials used in local schools and work with HAF in remedying such issues
As a Dharma Ambassador, you will have the opportunity to speak at local schools, interfaith gatherings, and other public events based on your availability. You will be able to speak about Hinduism within a very limited amount of time, either through a presentation or with talking points. Usually speaking engagements can range from few times a month to just a few times a year, all depending on your availability. You will be able to:
- Speak in front of school audiences, tailoring your presentations to be age appropriate and within the boundaries of the First Amendment
- Serve as a Hindu community representative in interfaith settings, and if needed, provide a Hindu perspective in community dialogues
- Serve as a point of contact on education issues in your local community
- Volunteer when necessary on school committees, including on ways to promote diversity
Session 1 - Introduction (1.5 hours)
This session explains who the Dharma Ambassadors are, including their importance and the need for community engagement. The session will include discussion of challenges from within and outside the Hindu community on presenting a credible, cohesive, and culturally competent narrative about Hinduism. Reading materials for the next session will be assigned.
Session 2 - How to Discuss Hinduism (1.5 hours)
This session will consist of a slide presentation prepared by HAF that focuses on how to speak about Hinduism, with a focus on succinctness, simplicity, and presenting (rather than preaching). This will show how to explain key philosophical concepts in a limited amount of time. The session will illustrate how to make Hindu concepts relevant and explainable to different sets of audience, while also helping to explain sensitive social issues in a proactive and credible manner.
Session 3 - Practice Session, Short Presentations (Length depends on number of participants)
In this session, attendees will be asked to make a 3-5 minute presentation on ONE of the following topics: the concept of divinity in Hinduism; moksha; karma; God; paths of yoga; or varna/jati (caste). This session will include feedback on how to sharpen one’s presentation skills, particularly in a limited amount of time. Participants will create a presentation on their own, but will have resources to use as guides. Participants are encouraged to practice these presentations on their own or in small groups with peer-review.
Session 4 - Final Session, Long Presentations (Length depends on number of participants)
This final session before certification involves participants making a full 30 minute presentation using the HAF Powerpoint. The participant will have read DC Rao’s Understanding Hinduism by this time and will field several “mock” questions from session organizers.
Final Examination - Participants will be required to pass a written exam to ensure that they have a proper grasp of the material.
Note: For regions that have have coordinated an in-person session with the HAF team, please disregard the Session 1 - Introduction dates. If you are interested in an in-person session, then please contact us at email@example.com.
We are currently in the process of finalizing our 2018 schedule. Please check back here for dates.
After completing the trainings, you are a Dharma Ambassador! You have the knowledge and tools to be able to speak eloquently and accurately about Hinduism.
If you would like to be a Certified Dharma Ambassador, then the last step is to become an HAF member if you aren’t already. You will receive a certificate of completion and will be added to our speaker database. Members of the database will have first access to inquiries from schools and groups for speaking engagements and presentations. Click here to sign up for HAF membership.
Role of a Dharma Ambassador Coordinator
Interested in being our point of contact for your region? The local coordinator of the Dharma Ambassador program will work with HAF to set up and monitor implementation of the DA program. This will involve:
- Mobilizing local interest in the program and schedule an introductory session by HAF
- Creating a list of volunteers to be shared with HAF for further action
- Scheduling subsequent training sessions as outlined above
- Assigning trained DAs to respond to speaking requests in their communities
- Setting up periodic consultations among DAs to identify further support needed from HAF and ways to identify local opportunities to disseminate knowledge about Hinduism
- Communicating periodically with HAF’s Associate Director of Programs to ensure that local community needs are being addressed
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org about being a Dharma Ambassador Coordinator.
For any questions or comments, contact HAF’s Associate Director of Programs, Aesha Mehta, email@example.com.