A student club at Gulf Islands Secondary School is exploring different religions and cultures to promote better understanding and tolerance.
The World Religions and Culture Club was formed by Grade 12 student Adele Olender Mark in January 2018. She formed the club to help people understand different religious beliefs and to celebrate them rather than stigmatize them.
“My hope is that it will encourage them to ask questions to other people and not be afraid if someone’s different from them,” Olender Mark said.
Club members have learned about Judaism, Christianity and Buddhism from local religious leaders, and is planning sessions on Islam and Hinduism.
The group meets once per month on Wednesdays, depending on the availability of the presenters. In addition to presentations, Olender Mark prepares religious meals to share with the club and the presenters bring in religious symbols and items to show to students.
The club builds on regular school lessons about different religions. Where teachers in high school social studies classes give a good framework on how faiths work and their practices, Olender Mark thinks the club helps students see religion from a more human point of view.
“It’s totally good to be different. It’s good to say what makes us different and understand it instead of pretending that we’re all the same. We’re not,” she said. “It really helps because all of the presenters that we bring in are so open-minded themselves. They are aware that everyone who is coming is probably a different religion than them and everyone is open to each other’s views and just understanding each other a bit better.”
Though Olender Mark is graduating this year, she has been working with the leadership class and some Grade 11 students to continue the club into the future.
Teachers and community members are welcome to join in as well. The group meets Wednesdays at GISS during lunch hour.
For more on this story, see the May 16, 2018 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.