SOLIHULL students strengthened their understanding of those from a different culture by being part of an initiative with a Muslim faith school in Birmingham.
Students from Hazrat Khadijatul Kubra, a faith school in Small Heath, Birmingham, have met with students from Grace Academy Solihull in Chelmsley Wood, to encourage tolerance and awareness of people from different geographical and faith backgrounds.
The project forms part of The Faith and Belief Forum national linking programme that brings students together from different cultures for three link days each academic year.
Students are able to discuss their differences and similarities, make new friends and break down stereotypes.
Religious studies teacher Bushra Ali from the all-girls Muslim school said: “The year eight girls were apprehensive at first but soon opened up and now they can’t stop talking to each other. It’s really opened the eyes of our girls in getting to know girls from a different background. I think it has changed their perspective and showed them how they can work with different people from any community and be open-minded.
“I thought people might be apprehensive about the way we look, but Grace Academy girls have been very open-minded about the Hijab and we had the opportunity to explain that it’s a symbol of our faith and reminds us of our values.”
Student Khadija Bibi from Hazrat Khadijatul Kubra, said: “Our school is a ‘one religion’ school so it’s a great experience to see how other people are different. I know we are from very different backgrounds, but we accept each other.”
Laura Wadley, youth and community coordinator, at Grace Academy Solihull, said: “It is really important for young people to build meaningful relationships with other young people from different backgrounds, faiths and cultures. The linking programme has given the students confidence to interact with people they wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to meet.
“They have overcome barriers of fear of the unknown, a lack of confidence in interacting with people they don’t normally meet, and some pre-conceived ideas and judgments.”
Darren Gelder, Principal from Grace Academy Solihull added: “Part of what we are trying to do is to open the eyes of students to a diverse world, so they can appreciate people from different faiths and geographical backgrounds, improve understanding, and prepare our students to be global citizens.”
Rich Pringle, programmes coordinator West Midlands, for The Faith and Belief Forum, commented: “The UK is brilliantly diverse, and the linking programme has provided an ideal platform for students to celebrate this. It has given them the opportunity and confidence to explore and celebrate their own identities and the identities of their peers in different schools across the city.”