Cultural barriers were demolished and stereotypes quashed when girls from the Australian Islamic College (AIC) spent a day at Methodist Ladies’ College in April, and MLC girls paid a return visit in August.
Eleven teenagers from the school in the northern Perth suburb of Dianella spent a day with their hosts discovering that they were more similar, than different.
MLC Principal, Rebecca Cody, also met with AIC’s Principal, Wahaj Tarin. She said the relationship between the two schools gives the students the opportunity to move beyond stereotypes.
“I think that all great schools learn from each other, so this is merely an example of a learning conversation between two schools. It’s also an opportunity for our girls, and Mr Tarin’s girls, to seek to understand each other,” Rebecca said.
The relationship between the schools was borne out of discussions between MLC Chaplain, Rev Hollis Wilson, and AIC Islamic Study teacher, Fazida Razak, at a series of interfaith meetings over a few years.
Both principals agreed that understanding and acceptance, rather than tolerance, was key to moving forward in a world that is shrinking due to technology.
“The world is moving towards a global village, and the only way that we will, in a peaceful and happy way, inhabit this planet is by building bridges, building friendships and building relationships,. If our young are introduced to this, and it is our hope and anticipation that, later on in life as leaders of tomorrow, they will make decisions based on the facts and not stereotypes,” Wahaj said.
The girls were introduced to each other via email prior to their first meeting. By the time they met faceto- face they had already struck up numerous conversations and were texting each other. When they did finally meet at MLC, a wave of excitement crashed over them all.
“We were really worried that they wouldn’t text us, and then when I got my email we started texting and we kept talking. I thought she was wonderful, but when I got to meet her she was way better, she was so enthusiastic and so encouraging,” said AIC Year 10 student Hamdi Guie who spent the day going to classes with MLC Year 10 student Alexandra Slater.
On her visit to the Australian Islamic College, Alexandra tried her hand at Arabic calligraphy, and attended a seerah class which focused on the life of Mohammad and the teaching of peace.
“Our day consisted of various activities that allowed space for a broad awareness and how education about religion and culture is vital for society to disregard prejudice and avoid ignorance,” Alexandra said. “I’m looking forward to further experiences to be shared with the AIC and I am certain, as a student, that this school relationship will persist for many years to come.”
MLC recently won the Ecumenical and Interfaith Award, for this project, at the Annual Meeting of the Synod of WA, held from Friday 9 to Sunday 11 September.
Top image: Abdiladif Mohamed, Leisl Lucerne-Knight (year 10) and Najma Abdullahi (year 10).