Building Bridges: students breaking down religious misunderstandings


Chelsie Fisher (Newman College), Yusra Abdullahi (Australian Islamic College), Alexia Carlino (Newman College), Bradley Sawyer (Carey Baptist College), Ruth Karotkin (Carmel School), Mashiha Domun (Australian Islamic College) and back to camera Maheen Rind (Australian Islamic College). Picture: Marie Nirme
Chelsie Fisher (Newman College), Yusra Abdullahi (Australian Islamic College), Alexia Carlino (Newman College), Bradley Sawyer (Carey Baptist College), Ruth Karotkin (Carmel School), Mashiha Domun (Australian Islamic College) and back to camera Maheen Rind (Australian Islamic College). Picture: Marie Nirme

STUDENTS from different religions have been participating in a program that helps break down misunderstanding, prejudice and stereotypes of other religions.

Carey Baptist College, the Australian Islamic College, Newman Catholic College and Carmel School have all involved students in the program Building Bridges.

The years 10 and 11 students were gathered at Carey Baptist College in Harrisdale last week and were involved in a range of sessions that helps the students build bridges to appreciate other cultures and connect people from different religions.

Australian Islamic College’s Maheen Rind said the program allowed her to keep an open mind towards other cultures and religions and removed some of the stereotypes.

“I thought that Christians were really lenient with their religions and Jewish people were all strict and all they did was eat kosher,” she said.

Carey Baptist College student Samuel Anderson said it had allowed him to extinguish any fears he had between different people.

“It’s my belief that all stereotypes are based off something that is usually blown out of proportion,” he said.

“There has always been a thing about that stereotype and you can’t get that out of your head; this has helped to get rid of that.

“I have been forced out of this shell.”

“As soon as you meet a person in real life, you are breaking myths and breaking stereotypes right there,” Australian Islamic College deputy principal Toni Pikos-Sallie said.

“There is no secret that Islam is a very dominant theme in the media; in this day and age we are very aware of that and we have to live with it,” she said.

“It is one small step at a time.

“We have about 100 kids participating; there are 100 people that walk away with an enriched viewpoint of the world.”

Carmel School’s director of Jewish studies Simon Lawrence said it was about appreciating commonality.

“The idea is to explain the difference of tolerance and acceptance,” he said.

“It’s very easy in society to tolerate people. This is about the next level: accepting people.”