Religion and Diversity Education: Getting to Goal

As part of Tanenbaum’s Religion and Diversity Education program, we conduct training sessions with educators so they can teach their students about being respectful of those of other faiths and cultures. Last week, we provided the Staten Island YMCA camp counselors with presentations on our pedagogy, The Seven Principles of Inclusive Education and our World Olympics curriculum. For the second year, the Staten Island Y is one of our Intensive Sites where we provide training and materials for the full implementation of the World Olympics curriculum. 

Our visit to Camp Pouch was very interesting for me as it was my first opportunity to observe a real, live Tanenbaum training. Even though I have been interning for only a month, I feel like I can see Tanenbaum’s mission clearly and to have the chance to see that mission come to life for other people is very rewarding. Not only was it refreshing to interact with the young and energetic camp counselors, it was also encouraging to see how they reacted and interacted with the materials and concepts we presented. They understood the significance of respect in terms of religious and cultural diversity well and were creative and insightful in translating such themes into activities that could be used with younger campers in the future. 
 
One particular counselor shared her experience with us, recounting how the World Olympics curriculum helped her in her graduate course on Multiculturalism and Diversity. It appeared that the original textbook for that course was written from a limited point of view and the professor was not very accepting of the students’ personal experiences and backgrounds. However, the camp counselor expressed that the World Olympics text really helped her to understand the different aspects and approaches to multiculturalism and diversity, especially when teaching such concepts to young children. She even brought the text in to class to share with her professor and peers.
 
It was incredibly gratifying to hear that the World Olympics curriculum could help her, not only with her studies, but with broadening the worldviews of those around her. It is my belief that the key to achieving interreligious understanding is getting people to expand their mindsets through education. To see others share in this belief makes me think that maybe we are just a little bit closer to realizing our goals.
– Kate Vasharakorn, Religion and Diversity Education Intern