THE Australian Islamic College in Dianella and Methodist Ladies’ College in Claremont have fostered a friendship which holds the promise of lasting understanding between cultures.
Once per term, a contingent from each school visits their Abrahamic counterpart to attend classes, exchange ideas, and form friendships.
With a buddy system in place, the year 9 and 10 girls have been swapping emails for almost a year and have met twice, so they were getting along like a house on fire during last week’s visit for MLC’s Heather Lamont festival.
While bonding over a shared love of cake, the AIC and MLC students said they had a lot in common despite obvious differences like dress-code and prayer habits.
Chess, cooking, drama, photography, music, and crafting were some of the activities planned to keep the girls busy while they mingled.
Islamic college principal Wahaj Tarin hopes the program will kindle life-long friendships, and break down harmful stereotypes about Islam, while also showing the Muslim students that most of Australian society is not hostile towards them.
Mr Tarin says AIC teaches Arabic language and Islamic values alongside the Australian curriculum, so their school is not unlike other faith-based schools in WA like MLC.
“It’s pleasant to go out and see that the rest of Australia does not see Islam as grim as it might be portrayed in the media,” Mr Tarin says.
“It reinforces that the majority of Australia is a very warm, accepting and embracing society.
[The students] have basically transcended socio-economic indexes and cultural, religious differences and have basically clicked.”
AIC’s Fazida Razak and MLC chaplain Rev Hollis Wilson developed the initiative, and were awarded the Uniting Church Synod of WA’s interfaith award for their efforts.
The two schools hope to make it an established part of their school calendars.
by TRILOKESH CHANMUGAM