Coming Together for Unity Week
A student instigated Unity Week to foster connection and understanding around March 15 culminated in Rangi Ruru students visiting Al Noor Mosque yesterday. At the gates of the mosque school leaders, joined by their peers from St Margaret’s College, strung paperchains adorned with messages of kindness and unity written by hundreds of Rangi Ruru students, before an educational tour by mosque members.
Unity Week was thought-up by student Head of Wellbeing Shahd Khanafer to bring the student community together and commemorate the devastating 2019 Christchurch terrorist attack. The week included: a moment of silence to commemorate the innocent victims of March 15; making the paper chain; playing a moving video message from a March 15 survivor about the importance of unity, and a pie-a-teacher fundraiser which raised more than $250 for Muslim youth charity The Nawawi Centre.
Shahd says yesterday’s visit to the mosque was an opportunity to demonstrate the values of Unity Week. Students were given a tour by mosque members Sarah and Jumaya, learn about the impact of March 15 and hear a call to prayer from an Imam.
“It was so heart-warming to see the other students sit and listen to what was said about Islam and it made me feel so accepted. Hearing Jumaya and Sarah speak really allowed for all of us to learn more and even hearing a call to pray from an Imam was such a blessing,” says Shahd.
Lucy Aitken (Year 13) attended the visit, and says it was a moving and educational experience.
“I learned so much about Islam and the values and traditions that are such a key part of their religion, such as Ramadan, prayer, the hijab and the Quran. It was particularly moving when Jumaya discussed the event of the mosque shooting, and how people reacted within the mosque.
“It was an eye-opening experience and an amazing afternoon, full of wonderful people and knowledge outside of our own experiences, and I am so grateful to get the opportunity to learn about and experience the mosque and Islamic religion.”
Shahd, who was supported by members of the Wellbeing Council to bring Unity Week to life, says the week was a way to foster connection and understanding and celebrate what makes each member of the school whānau unique.
“I hope that Unity Week allows for everyone to be themselves and to be willing to learn about others. I hope every student goes away from Unity Week feeling more connected, feeling more knowledgeable and closer with their peers. I hope that we all learnt something new as being more united does really allow us to be a stronger, tighter whānau. I hope we continue to be united not only this year but for many years to come.”