On April 21, 2015, a group of Muslim women from A.C.E. Language Institutes at Seattle Pacific University visited Holy Names Academy in Seattle. Holy Names is an all girls Catholic school located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. The Muslim students from A.C.E. shared about their culture, religion, and life experiences with the Catholic students from HNA. The following is a reflection from Holy Names Academy religion teacher, Sarah Wahlen.
By: Sarah Wahlen, Holy Names Academy Religion Teacher, Special Correspondent to the A.C.E. Blog
For the second year in a row, we had the opportunity to host some of the female Muslim students from A.C.E. Language Institute at Seattle Pacific University. The ladies spent the day speaking as a panel for six periods of our 9th grade Religion class, World Cultures. Since the school culture at Holy Names Academy is diverse, we strive to help students live and work in an environment of building understanding of the views of others, as well as respect for their own traditions. This class is designed to help students delve a little deeper into some of the major religions around the world with the goals of increased global knowledge, as well as motivating peace-building and compassion for others.
It was such a great day and was extra special to see some of the women return from last year and display even more confidence with regard to speaking and telling their stories. The visit of the Muslim women has truly become a cornerstone and highlight of our Islam unit. The girls so look forward to it every year and we observe them getting so much out of it. It is very powerful for them to sit across from women of a different culture and hear directly from them in their own words about what their faith means to them and how they interpret their own lifestyles within that context. It is also always a treat to observe the similarities the students discover when bringing up things like music taste, phone apps, entertainment, etc. There is never a shortage of “they are just like us” comments. Yes, indeed.
I know that this day of learning is immensely valuable for our students, as evidenced by some amazing conversations in class the following day when we spent time talking about what the experience was like for the students. The response is always an overwhelming sense of new understanding, as well as connections made with people who are sometimes viewed as so different from us. In addition, as teachers we were blessed to be able to share lunch with the women. I know I speak for all my fellow co-workers in expressing how much I learned from and appreciated the opportunity for fellowship and conversation. We are so grateful for this enlightening experience that we and our students were able to take part in and sincerely look forward to a growing partnership with A.C.E. in the years to come.
A.C.E. is also looking forward to an ongoing partnership with Holy Names in order to promote peace and intercultural friendship in the world!