Background, Battleground and Breaking Ground: reading as intercultural collaboration

Jewish and Muslim schoolkids share project, life experiences, Calgary Herald

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Artful Activism: Building Bridges through Creativity

I spent the summer of 2014 at the Children’s International Summer Village (CISV) in Norway with volunteers and students from 12 different countries, living and learning together. The techniques and ideas shared were profoundly powerful, and I returned to Calgary inspired to facilitate inter-cultural friendships among students in my home city. The project which followed brought together students from various communities including Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, First Nations, and Chinese Canadians, to create art which depicted their worldview. Our efforts were corroborated with a travelling assembly—comprised of a Rabbi, a Blackfoot First Nations chief, an LGBTQ activist, and a Muslim U.N. worker from Africa—to guide conversations about historical travesties, and imagine new ways to work together. Below are images created by some of the schools involved in the project.

Paintings from the Social Justice and Peace Project; Glenbow Museum

Paintings from the Social Justice and Peace Project; Glenbow Museum

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CTV News Coverage

Conflicts between Muslim and Jewish communities are storied in depictions of religious and political differences, but as Rabbi Voss-Altman suggested to a group of Muslim students, honoring the undercurrent of similarity could pave a new future. Students from Almadina charter school visited the synagogue as part of their engagement with Jewish history, where they met the Rabbi and listened to a message of hope embedded in the stories of Holocaust survivors Sidney and Bronia Cyngiser. This project served to destabilize notions of fear and other-ing, by facilitating personal relationships and promoting inter-cultural understanding and respect.

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Students Learn Life Lesson by Helping the Homeless

Disenfranchised people are often portrayed monolithically, as a nebulously anonymous whole, devoid of nuance, complexity, and uniqueness. The purpose of this project was to engage students in conversation with residents at a homeless shelter, and reflect on individualizing factors. Afterwards, we made sandwiches which mirrored the diversity we observed, including kosher, vegan, and halal options to demonstrate the importance of acknowledging the individual when giving.

Students Learn Life Lesson by Helping the Homeless