On September 21, 2013, the United Nations will celebrate the International Day of Peace, with the theme: “So, who will I make peace with?”
In support of this, Face to Faith Philippines sponsored five multi-point video conferences (VC). Three of the multipoint VC’s will be among students of different schools from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, with the aim of giving the “participating students a chance to listen to and learn from each others’ distinctive stories: their cultures, settings, faiths, and celebrations.”
The schools that participated in the first of these multi-points VC’s, which happened last August 2, were Xavier School, Sta. Lucia High School, Paco Catholic School, and Ateneo de Zamboanga High School.
The following were the main topics of the dialogue:
1. UNIQUENESS OF THEIR FAMILIES was the first topic of the dialogue. This was to help prepare the students to talk about how their families are unique and/or special. The aim of this segment was to make the students appreciate their uniqueness and their differences. The following questions served as a guide in their articulation.
- What makes my family special/unique?
- How do we celebrate/value this unique/special feature of our family?
- How did I or someone in my family contribute to making my family special or unique?
2. HARMONIOUS DIVERSITY IN THEIR COMMUNITIES was discussed next. This was to help them realize that they bring their personal and family’s uniqueness to enrich their communities—uniqueness lends to an enriched diversity. In a larger sense, of course, we wanted them to see how rich the Philippine demographic landscape is. The following questions were given to aid in their realizations.
- How do the differences among the persons in my community help add “color” to it?
- What is something other persons have and I don’t have that I appreciate or value?
- What helps me live more easily with all the differences?
3. FAITH was then talked about lastly as an element that helps bind diversity together to produce, not discordant, but harmonious diversity. The following questions served as reflection points regarding the role of faith and its many facets in their lives:
- What role has my own faith had in helping me accept or not accept those who are different from me?
- What celebrations of other faiths or cultures have I or would I like to experience or celebrate and why?
- How can I use my own faith to help me live harmoniously with others who are different from me?
The following are excerpts of the blog submitted by students after the Video Conference:
“I also believe that the Face to Faith video conference allowed us to build on each other’s ideas and thoughts very effectively, positively contributing to our collaborative, nation-wide knowledge and perceptions of peace. For instance, as we discussed the situation regarding the treatment that Muslims receive from society, even non-Muslims were able to contribute significant ideas to the conversation. As a citizen of the Philippines, it was also very fulfilling to hear that, one way or another, non-Muslim Filipinos are starting to become more and more considerate towards the Muslim minority. Specialized rooms for Muslim worship are provided in Ateneo de Zamboanga, along with the consideration of religious attire and practices.”
– Joshua Matthew Lim
“I found the Face to Faith VC memorable, since it shattered stereotypes
… the stereotype that the only culture allowed in Chinese schools (like Xavier) is Chinese. Other schools asked us about this misconception, so we spoke of the open culture at our school: how our community masses are multilingual, how we sing and say mass in three languages; how Chinese traditions like ancestor veneration are integrated into the Catholic faith.
…the stereotype that Muslims cannot and will not go to Catholic schools (like Ateneo de Zamboanga). Several female Ateneo students wore hijabs. I was quite surprised, not because I had never seen them worn before, but more so because Ateneo is a Catholic and a Jesuit School. I was even more pleasantly surprised to discover that not only did Ateneo de Zamboanga welcome Muslim students, the school even built a prayer room for them, and allowed them to practice their faith publicly.”
– Scott L. Chua
On September 6, 2013, Xavier will once again participate in one of the two multipoint special VC’s. What is different in this VC, however, is that the participating students will have a special resource person to talk about the peace negotiations and the steps that both parties (the government and the Muslims in Mindanao) are talking in the name of Peace. For this special VC, selected H3 students the participants, and the input will form part of their discussion in Social Science.