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Monday, August 29th 2016

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Building Bridges Project at Newman College

As you may have read in previous newsletters, Newman College has been one of the four schools who accepted last year's invitation to be part of the Building Bridges Project, which was developed by Pastor Tim McCowan from Victoria. This project has been operating in Victoria for the past thirteen years.

For the last 10 years, our Year 11 students have been visiting the Australian Islamic College (AIC) as part of the World Religions' Tour. Since then, some members of the Religious Education Department at the College have been keenly interested in finding opportunities where we could bring our students together. In 2013, as part of our Harmony Week celebrations, we invited the AIC to visit us for a social game of soccer, followed by a sausage sizzle. One of our Year 9 Religious Education classes played host to those students and a wonderful celebration of diversity occurred. So, when the opportunity to join Building Bridges arose, we enthusiastically joined the project.
Last week, the other participating schools, Australian Islamic College, Carmel College and Carey Baptist College visited Newman College for Session 5 of the 2016 Project. Our participating students took them on a short tour of our College, upon their arrival and then moved them to the Chapel, where the group was welcomed firstly by Social Justice Captain, Tom Crellin and then Mr Finneran, our Principal, who spoke to them of the importance of the project and its implications, going into the future.
After these formalities, our main activity was to engage in simple conversation, using concentric circles and engaging in what was effectively 'speed chatting'. On the outer circle we had Carmel College and Newman College and on the inner circle, we had the Australian Islamic College and Carey Baptist College. This meant that Newman and Carmel College students took turns to speak to students from the other two colleges. The process was a moving and joyful exchange and it was a privilege to be part of this.
The Newman students involved had decided in our planning that they wanted to offer Kosher and Halal food to the visitors, so arrangements were made for this to happen. This was their way of building, another bridge.
In the history of our country, at a time when the media is quick to report on the difficulties which occur between different groups, on a religious basis, what our students and all the students participating in Building Bridges are doing, is the beginning of change. The emphasis continues to be that we are more alike, than we are unalike and that our similarities are what must bring us together.
Jenny Lindsay, Social Justice Mentor
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