Muddy hands and clean hearts
Sara Dressman ’15
On Sunday, April 26th, a group of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian students got together to do service at Imago Earth Center. We started out the event with some mingling and ice breaker games. Eventually, we were put into different crews to cover three different tasks: building a butterfly garden, mulching, and doing random tasks. I was put into the group in charge of mulching.
The place where I was working was the embodiment of a swamp. I eventually just took off my shoes to work barefoot because my shoes were so muddy. I gravitated towards two Jewish students and ended up working with them the whole time. As we worked, I asked them about themselves and about their faith. We talked about everything from their Jewish youth groups and Kosher to what their spirit animal was and what they order at Skyline. It was really interesting to hear about how they live out their faith life even though they attend public schools such as Mason, Seven Hills, and Walnut Hills to name a few. The whole experience was kept on a lighter tone and everyone was having a lot of fun, especially during our pizza dinner.
After the dinner, we had small group discussions with the people that we completed our tasks with and the adult representatives from each of the religions led a group. The group leaders asked us questions such as what we thought the purpose for the event was. We all agreed that the event was meant to bridge the gap between all of our religions and to realize that we weren’t that different. We realized that we were just people and that our religions didn’t necessarily define us as people. The purpose of this event was to begin to alleviate the negative stigmas associated with the different religions. When you know Muslim or Jewish people, it’s harder to believe the negative stereotypes that unfortunately are linked to them because of the extremist people, history, or practices in their religion. We learned that we were all just teenagers who were confused about life and looking for a higher purpose. We tried to come up with ways to combat the negative stereotypes and bullying associated with religious differences. We decided that the only way to change other people’s thinking about religious differences was for them to participate in activities like these. I would definitely recommend service like this. I had so much fun, learned a lot about the other religions, and I would definitely sign up for another event like this!