[Tim McCowan] The Building Bridges programme really came out of my own experience of listening to a young Muslim man share something his own life story with me. I discovered experiences that he had had that really resonated with my own experiences and something of my journey of faith.
The Building Bridges programme brings young people from diverse cultural and faith backgrounds together to mix and meet each other and share something of their personal story with each other. Really it aims to help encourage understanding and trust between those of different backgrounds and hopefully bring some possibilities of friendship and cooperation into the future in their lives together.
The Building Bridges programme involves six sessions where the young people come together from their diverse cultural or faith backgrounds. They have an interactive, fun game to break the ice as it were and start to mix and form relationships and then they also have some learning activity around trust building, there’s a little bit of input from the community that’s hosting the session perhaps about their culture or the faith represented by their community and a vegetarian meal and then they move into small single sex groups that are guided by a facilitator to share something more personal, get below the surface, things, perhaps experiences of their life, part of their own story as a way of connecting with each other and recognising some of the commonalities and the differences we have.
In a growing multicultural society like Australia, unless we’re actually mixing and even conversing with real people of different cultural or faith backgrounds it’s very easy to have some wrong assumptions about them, even to stereotype them, all based on our ignorance rather than the truth.