In Their Own Words- Face to Faith Students Learn From Videoconference with Palestinian Girls School

Education

In Their Own Words- Face to Faith Students Learn From Videoconference with Palestinian Girls School

20 Feb 2012

Two Face to Faith students from Lewis and Clark High School in the United States reflect on lessons learned from a videoconference with Al Aeshia Girls School in Palestine. Below are their thoughts in their own words.

Student 1:

"Though I had to miss my beloved 7 am choir class, I greatly enjoyed and appreciated my video conference with Al Aeshia Girls School as I met a lovely group of girls with whom I was able to make quite a few connections.

I learned that the majority of the girls had faith primarily in their family, friends, and society as I do even though they were primarily Muslim whereas I am atheistic (but strongly interested in religion).

One girl emphasized that religion is primarily a personal experience and a guiding force which is a belief I support wholeheartedly.

I believe that religion holds the most significance when it centres on allowing growth and education for its followers. The lessons that the girls said they learned from Islam resonated deeply with me, for I too believe in forgiveness, respecting others, and honouring other religions as one girl summarized.

The part of the video conference which I valued the most was the segment in which we discussed the place of religion in education. I often ponder the ways in which education can be modernized and made more applicable to the lives of students, and I believe that reforming the way in which public schools in secular countries, such as the United States, approach religious education could be a vital step in the process.

To avoid the problems that arise from an inadequate understanding of other religions, I believe a more comprehensive take on teaching religion could be helpful. For instance, exploring the current roles of religions in people's lives could help foster cross-cultural bonds as people could better comprehend the viewpoints of those who have different religions.

Religion plays a massive role in many people's lives, so possessing knowledge beyond simply the history of religion would allow people to make connections based upon religious backgrounds in addition to ethnic backgrounds and countries of origin.

In conclusion, I was pleased to hear a girl describe Islam as non-imposing and non-invasive as it confirmed my ideas about the religion, especially when paired with the other glimpses I saw into the lessons of Islam".

Student 2:

This morning Lewis and Clark High School and Al Aeshia Girls School had an interesting conference. One topic I was interested in was the discussion about religion in education. At my school, in order to respect all different religions, we do not learn about religion or celebrate them openly. We cannot dress up at school for Halloween so we do not offend religions that do not tolerate this.

Several girls from the Al Aeshia School talked about how, although the majority of them practice the Islamic religion, religion is a part of their education. In two previous conferences with Bal Bharati Public School in India, students discussed how there are many religions represented in their community. For all religions there are festivals and school holidays are given so that everyone can participate in these festivals whether they practice the religion or not.

I wish that, especially in our public school system which many different cultures and religions are represented in, we could move to a more open and embracing environment. Instead of shutting out religion, why not celebrate and learn about religion?

For many, religion is a very important part of their lives. I have friends on my soccer team, who even when we travel to another city for a game, will make sure they get up early enough to get to a church before Sunday's game. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits any impediment of the free exercise of religion. I wish that we could find a way to truly uphold this, not just because it is a "Law" but because we want to learn, accept differences and open our eyes to the world around us".

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