Islamic, Catholic Schools Bridge Cultural Gap by Spending Day Learning about their Religions

December 1, 2006

Author: Jo Napolitano

Source: Chicago Tribune,1,7550459.story

Thursday was a day of firsts in Burbank.

In a celebration called Harmony Day, students at Queen of Peace High School and Muslim students from the Universal School in nearby Bridgeview talked about the differences--and similarities--between Catholicism and Islam.

The daylong program, meant to fuel understanding between the religions, began with an 11-minute video in which Queen of Peace students talked candidly about Islam. Asked what images or ideas enter their heads when they hear the words "Islam" or "Muslim," they talked about the Middle East and headscarves. One student mentioned the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The Universal School, with 629 Muslim students in preschool through high school, is only 2.5 miles from Queen of Peace, but the Catholic students said they knew little about their peers in the next town.

Many said they had no personal experience with Islam. Some Muslim students said the same of Catholicism.

One girl from the Universal School saidall her friends practice the same faith. "I have no friends who are not Muslim," she said.