Public school students join in the first peace building video conference
Twenty selected students from Manggahan High School Pasig went on a video conference with students from St. Mark’s Senior Secondary School in New Delhi, India where both sides learned from each others’ religious faith and practices – part of a process that builds understanding and friendship among youth from different parts of the world.
The video conference, the first of its kind to involve Philippine public school students, was part of the Face to Faith Program of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. It was hosted by Xavier School, Face to Faith’s lead school in the Philippines.
Face to Faith enables students of different religions and cultures to discuss their beliefs and traditions with peers from different parts of the world through its network of high schools in 17 countries. Its goal is to teach young people not only about religion, but also about dialogue and peace-building.
Education Secretary Br. Armin A. Luistro FSC said he hopes the Face to Faith video conference can be encouraged in many other schools in the Philippines and in the world to build bridges of friendship instead of distrust and animosity.
“When we get to know the culture, social and religious practices of people not known to us before, the veil of ignorance and mistrust is taken off so that trust and friendship can grow,” said Luistro.
The participation of Manggahan High School in the program was made possible with the signing of an agreement in August last year between Luistro and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The video conference, moderated expertly from the United States by Cory Davis, started with students from India talking about their national and religious festivals of four religious traditions. The Filipino students responded by sharing pictures and stories about religious feasts in the Philippines, as well as regional festivals such as the Mascara, Panagbenga, Pahiyas, Dinagyang, Ati-atihan. It was the first time for the excited Filipino students to actually speak with young Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Christians from India.
One of the video conference participants identified as Aemielvin Loremia wrote in her blog: “This introduced me to new cultures and it made me sensitive to the customs and etiquette of other people. Face to Faith helps improve the understanding of cultures around the world and helps in developing unity among different countries with different races, religions, and cultures.”
Davis was impressed by the quality of the discussion: “I must say that this was one of the most interesting videoconferences I have done. I think these two schools have kids that can produce a fantastic, genuine dialogue…”
Luistro agrees: “I believe this kind of initiative can transform our students into persons respectful and appreciative of diversity.”