Seeds of Peace to host dialogue with Al-Noor School

Emily Shi and Maya Nornberg

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Students participating in a training event with the nonprofit Seeds of Peace will share a unique opportunity to learn how to facilitate dialogue with people from different communities in the Cohen Dining Commons tomorrow.

Representatives from Seeds of Peace, a non-profit organization focused on helping students engage in important conversations with their community, will lead a workshop to train student representatives from religious and secular schools around New York City, co-President of the Interfaith Club Diana Shaari (11) said.

According to the organization’s website, Seeds of Peace aims to “inspire and cultivate new generations of global leaders in communities divided by conflict,” and helps students make progress towards peace through social, economic, and political changes.

The upcoming workshop will equip student representatives with the proper tools needed to engage in a productive dialogue session across different communities, Shaari said. Student representatives from Al-Noor, Trinity, Fieldston, Heschel, and Miraj will be in attendance, she said.

The facilitators will run a formal discussion with the students and teach them different strategies regarding how to engage in issues facing different communities and begin conversations across cultures, co-President of the Interfaith Club Nader Granmayeh (12) said.

“The main objectives are really to get people to be more sensitive and engage in a more productive way when it comes to conversations about race, religion, and gender especially in a time when these issues are so contentious,” Interfaith Club member Gloria Khafif (11) said.

“It’s important for our students to understand different approaches to education and be exposed to students their own age who are guided by a very particular set of ethical values,” Head of Upper Division Dr. Jessica Levenstein said.

The training program is an extension of past initiatives of the Interfaith Club, a group of students at the school who work with the Al-Noor School, an Islamic school in Brooklyn, Interfaith Club member Roey Nornberg (11) said.

Previously, the group has engaged in a Muslim Students Summit, service projects involving food preparation, and visits to the Al-Noor school, Levenstein said.

Past dialogue sessions with Al-Noor have been student-organized. However, this Saturday is the first workshop event directly organized by the club’s parent organization, Seeds of Peace, Nornberg said.

“This Saturday, for the first time, we’ll learn how to run a more formal dialogue session and see the advantages of implementing those discussion strategies in the future,” he said.

In the past, the Interfaith Club has spoken with Al-Noor about contemporary issues facing Muslim students and the differences and similarities between the two communities, Nader Granmayeh said.

“I’ve learned a lot about what it means to be a Muslim person in New York City in this time, as that exposes them to experiences I can never imagine having,” he said.

Leyli Granmayeh (10), who attended a past dialogue session, was captivated by stories of how Muslim students feel wearing a hijab each day, fasting during Ramadan, and dealing with stares on the subway, she said. She is looking forward to this Saturday to learn to engage in more productive discussions in the future, she said.

Leading up to the new event, the school’s Interfaith Club aims to gain more participants from the school community and share its mission with other communities, Nader Granmayeh said.

Nader Granmayeh’s goal for the workshop is to ensure that students uninvolved in the Interfaith Club and students from other schools can start to begin productive dialogues in their own communities, he said.

“This is a way for students to get outside the Horace Mann bubble in a thoughtful manner that allows for students to build lasting relationships, which has happened already,” Levenstein said.