World Religions Week 2017 at Emery
Last week marked the annual Emery World Religions Week for seniors. While ninth through eleventh graders are out on winter trips throughout Texas, the Class of 2017 spent the week in Houston exploring and learning about different religions and cultures. Accompanied by teacher chaperones, students embraced the opportunity to learn about cultures within in a city that is very culturally diverse.
The week started out with the “big picture” introduction of cultures and religions. It was followed up by a speech from Justin Kelley, a Ph.D. student at Rice University. He spoke about his own experience with Buddhism and his decision to move to India for a number of years to become a monk. He answered questions and led a 10-minute meditation practice to allow students to create awareness with their body.
Tuesday marked the beginning of site visits for the senior class. First, students walked across Stella Link Rd. to Corpus Christi Catholic Church, where students learned about the history of Christianity and Christian denominations from Father Tom Smithson. The seniors then jumped on the bus and headed to North Houston, where we heard from Manpreet Singh at the Sikh Center. Students finished the day with tea and snacks served by members of the Sikh Center.
After visiting the Sikh Center, Olivia Dadoun stated, “I never knew anything about Sikhism but after visiting the Sikh Center, I was able to learn how interesting and beautiful their religion is. If I didn't have World Religions week, I wouldn't have that knowledge or understanding.”
Due to the rain and flooding in Houston on Wednesday morning, classes were cancelled so we weren’t able to do the site visits that were planned.
On the final day of site visits, we kicked off the day with a visit to Christ Church Cathedral. Rev. Barkley Thompson spoke about his own personal story and explained what the Episcopal Church is, before fielding questions from students and teachers. Finally, we visited the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, where Shariq Abdul Ghani explained Islam and what it’s like to be a Muslim in America today.
Alex Stout said, “I really enjoyed World Religions Week. By being introduced to these new cultures and religions, it helps us become tolerant and knowledgeable as we go on with our life.”
On Friday, students gathered together in the library to learn about Hinduism, get a debrief of the week, write thank-you notes to those that spoke with the senior class and had group discussions among students and teachers. Overall, the World Religions Week was well received by students, and many walked away feeling more knowledgeable and understanding of different religions and cultures.
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