[Catherine Devine] The main aim of the project is really to provide opportunities for young people from different faith and cultural backgrounds to meet each other, find connections with each other, through conversation and through creative expression as well to be able to at the end of the day see that there’s more in common that we have with each other than that separates us. And for most of the students who have been a part of this project since 2005, they are meeting people from cultural backgrounds that they’ve never met before, so they’ve never had an interaction, for example some of the students at St Monica’s Catholic co-ed school had never had conversations with Muslim students. So it is really, for them, a new experience and it’s a revelation after conversations, they realise 'I think that,' or 'No, I don’t think along those lines and the reason is because of this,' and it may have to do with their background, their world view, their values, or it may have to do with the fact that they simply have a different opinion because of individuality. And so it really is, the aim is to connect people.
We decided that we would provide a framework for the students in discussion and the Socratic circle methodology really suited our purpose because it allowed students the opportunity to look objectively at an issue rather than necessarily become very personally involved. If students during the course of the conversation wish to discuss personal stories they may but they can also separate themselves from that. So using the Socratic circles we’ve prepared our students but then we’ve given them the responsibility, the onus for the conversation and for how that evolves and we’ve respected that they have ideas that they have had the time to prepare some reflection, They’ve had the time to prepare some questions and we trust that they can explore these ideas. We’re actually interested in what they have to say about living in this society, what are the issues that for them, as their generation, that they are confronted with that means something to them, what is it that drives them as young people.