On the 17th August, Boroondara Interfaith Network held an encouraging and motivating evening focusing on how we can create a sense of community and belonging between people of different faith, cultures and generations. This gathering was held in partnership with the WellSpring Centre in Ashburton and the Building Bridges Interfaith Youth Program. 35 young people participated in the dialogue sessions with 15 older community members, Councillors and Faith leaders.

Young people from the Boroondara Youth Services Tomorrow Makers Program, which inspires young people to work on projects and issues in the community, and year 10-11s from local schools, engaged in three dialogue workshops on the theme of “What is Faith in my Generation?” These participants split into three groups for facilitated workshops on the themes of: religious and cultural diversity; morals, ethics and values; and community, family and relationships.

There were many interesting points of view expressed about the way these issues and situations were changing over time and on where we are heading as a community into the future. Insights were based on sharing stories and personal experiences of cultural encounter and learning.  Some of the key points raised were the advantages and disadvantages of social networking such as facebook and cyber based communities, and the need for community to create a sense of belonging; whether it is in a place of worship, as a cultural group or within a social networking realm. One participant noted that while we are living in a diverse society and might eat at restaurants from other cultures, that doesn’t introduce us to that faith or culture as at a deeper level, and does not seem to build real relationships between people.

There was a real desire to learn more from all generations on changing community, beliefs and culture, but also an apprehension and lack of knowledge on how to achieve this. Clearly there is more work to be done to share our world views and experiences as a community so that we can lower the fences of our differences and learn about the rich diversity of culture through friendship and dialogue.

The importance of learning about faith and culture was expressed in the closing sharing session. We understand that in a globalised world we will continue to encounter more difference in culture, religion and experience as a community and through our individual careers and networks. Moving from ‘tolerance’ to ‘acceptance’ will be a key aspect of building a resilient community into the future and will also be important to our ability to operate as successful individuals in a diverse society.

The Boroondara Interfaith Network was excited to work with the inspirational and engaged young people who attended this event and we hope that you will continue be a part of our interfaith dialogue gatherings and programs.


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