Power of One: Jewish and Muslim teens bond through art
Published Sunday, June 3, 2012 5:11PM EDT
MONTREAL - It's a groundbreaking program that's taking a big step towards bridging two communities that have been polarized for centuries.
Called "Living Together," the leadership program in Saint-Laurent brings together Jewish and Muslim youth by using the visual arts to break down stereotypes and build understanding.
"They really do get an opportunity to understand another community and through the process, understand how much they have in common," said project coordinator Amanda Tetrault.
The experience has been eye-opening, said participant Shimon Perez.
"You never think of Muslims and Jews just joining together and talking and sharing your feelings about each others' religion. It's really something great," said Perez.
This year's students are creating a stop-motion animation the project becomes a shared goal – acting as a vessel to facilitate understanding of religions, when the message is sometimes skewed.
"What we see everywhere, it's like Jews and Muslims, we hate each other. Whatever. And I just wanted to change this and send a message to other people," said Yasmeen Alghadbane,
Two years in and the initiative has changed attitudes.
"We saw kids come in with very clear ideas they had about the other community and we really saw that change over the course of the program," said Tetrault.
Perez said it was easy to see the similarities in all the teens in the program.
"We found out that we don't have that many differences between each other. We eat for the same reasons. We pray for the same reasons," said Perez. It's much different than the media makes it out to be."
Students who wouldn't otherwise interact have now become friends who will lead their lives with a fresh perspective on age-old tensions.
"I'm learning in this ‘vivre ensemble' -- to accept the person as he is and who he is," said Alghadbane "Not for what I think of him, or what I want him to be."