02 April 2012

Students' Video Conference Builds Understanding


A video conference among students from the Manggahan High School Pasig and the St. Mark’s Senior Secondary School in New Delhi, India, provided a medium for a discussion on religious faith and practices as part of a program to build 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.
Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Armin Luistro 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,” Luistro said.
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 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, 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 video-conferences I have done.“
By INA HERNANDO-MALIPOT
mb.com.ph

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