Last year came the shocking news of the murder of MP Jo Cox, who is remembered, amongst other things, for her belief that people have more in common than that which divides them. I would concur with her view. I think this is particularly true of people of faith, whatever their religion or other belief. I was therefore delighted when councillor Karen Henshaw suggested that we work together to create a multi-faith event at AKS, involving our students with local religious leaders and practitioners.
Working with Andrew Pratt, multi-faith adviser to the Bishop of Blackburn, we invited representatives from Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist communities to come and share their thoughts on the concept of peace. This took place last week. Not surprisingly, it was clear to all that the messages were very similar. If the identity of the speaker had been hidden, along with any specific reference to scripture, it would have been difficult to tell the messages apart. AKS students contributed readings, songs and performances (pictured) on the same theme, much appreciated by the audience. Afterwards, taking refreshments with those who attended, I was taken with how good everyone felt about the experience. New cross-faith contacts were made, not only in a spirit of togetherness, but also in a desire to learn from each other. As an educational institution, this felt very positive indeed.
One of the reasons we are so pleased to have linked up, through Round Square, with 180 schools from 50 countries, is that it gives our students further opportunity to meet and connect with others from around the globe. These schools are located in different cultural, linguistic and faith settings. We have already seen how our students are engaging with peers in different education systems, with different cultural perspectives, different geo-political outlooks, different self-perceptions. I could continue this list, but that would be to miss the point. We see our students learning that whatever the background, these differences are much less than one might think. We are really learning about what we have in common.
M H P Walton