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The Next Generation: Interfaith Studies and Dialogue for High School Students

Global Citizenship Immersion:
Building Skills and Knowledge for a Diverse World

Each year, the Brian and Jean Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue invites high school students to a week-long summer workshop at Nazareth College to explore world religions and interfaith dialogue.

The Next Generation: Living Together in a Multi-Religious Society, Youth Interfaith Encounter program includes seminars, interactive workshop sessions, group discussions, site visits to local places of worship, and a community service element.

When: August 10-14, 2015 ( both days included)

Where: Golisano Academic Center at Nazareth College, Rochester, New York

These seminars include lectures by experts from Nazareth College faculty and community leaders on different aspects of a variety of world religions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. These events allow students an opportunity to expand the depth of their understanding of these religious traditions, learning from an insider’s perspective and having the opportunity to directly engage our speakers and ask the questions that most intrigue them.

Workshop sessions address skill-building needs and instruct students in the proper language and methods of dialogue. Interfaith leaders in the community provide models for respectful engagement of those outside one’s own tradition, and the ways in which such contact can enrich communities and foster greater peace and cooperation. Guiding principles for interfaith dialogue are shared, as well as sessions on conflict transformation and resolution. After this instruction, students are put into groups formed with an eye toward diversity in order to experience interfaith dialogue firsthand, thoughtfully reflecting upon and discussing their own experiences of faith, intolerance, and acceptance in today’s pluralistic world.

Visits to local centers of worship allow students to see these religious traditions as they are lived. A member of that tradition guides the group through an exploration of the site, providing explanations for the structure of the building, the symbols used, and the way in which religious services are conducted. In this way, learning goes beyond the classroom, providing the unique opportunity of an inside look at the sacred spaces of these religions.

Carrying forward the themes of interfaith cooperation in the community, participants spend one afternoon of the program engaging in a group community service activity. Previously, students have visited Mary’s Place Outreach, a refugee outreach center in Rochester, New York. Students worked in the gardens, helped prepare and serve a community meal, and organized play activities and games for the refugee children. This is a hands-on experience of people working together with those in need across faith boundaries to better our shared world.

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