The RepublicStudents in Columbus are going to meet people of different ethnic backgrounds because of its international diversity. Along with that they’ll meet people of different faiths.But understanding different religions can be challenging, particularly when it’s difficult to know what information to trust that is shared on the internet and social media.However, more than 100 Columbus Signature Academy — New Tech High School world history students recently had an opportunity to meet people of different faiths and ask them questions to gain a better understanding of their religions.CSA-New Tech hosted an interfaith panel Nov. 15. The students met people representing Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Organizers said the purpose was for the students to see people of different faiths interacting in a positive way and see a diversity of religions.The panel was a follow-up to the students learning about different religions through research, watching videos and creating displays.Students asked the panel members about their beliefs, and whether they had ever experienced prejudice because of their faiths, for example.They learned that the panel members wanted to educate others about their faiths and help overcome misconceptions.We think the panel discussion — something the school has done for about eight years — is a great teaching tool for several reasons.It’s helpful at a time in our country’s history when many divisions have arisen from racial and religious issues.The panel teaches the students about diversity and fits well with the community’s goal of being welcoming.And it better prepares students for when they encounter more people of different religious backgrounds in future settings.We hope CSA-New Tech’s interfaith panel program continues in the future, and that more Columbus residents take a cue from it and try to learn more about people of different faiths and their beliefs.Understanding one another can draw people closer and make a community stronger.
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