Monday, February 28, 2011

Interfaith Dialogue at the CSW

In this post, I wanted to further build on Fauzia Nouristani’s post on the CSW’s panel discussion, “Religion, women and armed conflict: Faith agency to end violence and secure maternal health.” I was struck by the importance of interfaith dialogue, a concept which was suggested by Jasmin Nario Golace from Mariam College in the Phillipines. This concept seemed to resonate with members of the audience, who comprised of many different religious believers.

Ms. Golace came from Mariam College, a Catholic school in the Phillipines. Her students are taught peace building in their classrooms due to the extreme number of deaths that arise from military violence, as well as structural violence( hunger, poverty, etc.) . She, like many of the other speakers, also believed that religion is often used as a weapon rather than a positive tool, and began an interfaith dialogue program with a Muslim high school to combat this. Additionally, Mariam College’s theology department taught the students about numerous other religions, to have a better understanding of the many religions that exist, and to see both their similarities and differences.

Through the Twin School Project, the Catholic students of Mariam College, and the Muslim students of a local high school became pen pals. At the end of the school year, the penpals had the opportunity to meet one another. To the surprise of the students, they were shocked by how much they had in common with one another, and how easily they got along. They were all Filipinos, and could bond on various cultural norms that exist outside of religion. They were able to free themselves of religious stereotypes and preconceptions; something that I wish American schools would encourage and teach as well.

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