Students Visit 9/11 Memorial and Park 51 in Manhattan

Flashback to 2011, as protestors support the construction of the Muslim Center

On January 18th, the Global Scholars and World Religions classes of SLS seniors had the opportunity to take an inspiring field trip into the heart of Manhattan, where they visited the New York Museum of Tolerance followed by the recently constructed Park 51, the Islamic community center by Ground Zero. The students who participated in the field trip found visiting both sites to be a truly eye opening experience.

The Museum of Tolerance focuses specifically upon the destructive nature of hatred and the resonating power of hateful words and actions. It examines the Holocaust in both historic and contemporary contexts, challenging visitors to “confront bigotry and racism.” For these students in particular, who have chosen to take the World Religions elective or pursue the path of Global Scholar, the museum’s message was especially potent, as it encourages the open mindedness necessary to truly understand the thousands of different creeds and religions throughout the world.

Following their eye opening visit to the Museum of Tolerance, the students ate lunch breifly in Grand Central before embarking on the next leg of their journey: a life changing visit to Park 51. Within the last few years, an incredible amount of controversy has surrounded the alleged construction of an Islamic Mosque at Ground Zero, the site of the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks. Many Americans adamantly opposed the construction, and to this day remain largely unaware as to Park 51’s actual purpose and vision. The SLS students fortunate enough to visit Park 51 were surprised to discover that the “mosque at Ground Zero” is not actually at Ground Zero, nor is it really a mosque at all. Instead, Park 51 is located about a block away from the site, and is more of an inclusive community center, aimed at “reflecting the diverse spectrum of cultures and traditions, serving New York City with programs in education, arts, culture and recreation.” Yes, the site is inspired by Islamic values and Muslim heritage, but it is much more focused on fostering cooperation and understanding than solely promoting Islamic worship. After experiencing the enthusiastic, tolerant, progressive nature of Park 51, the Global Scholars and World Religions students said they felt almost sad and guilty on behalf of our society for being so vehemently opposed to the project. They discovered that much of the negative media surrounding Park 51 was misleading and far from accurate.

In regards to her experience visiting these two globally significant sites, Saint Luke’s Global Scholar Charlotte Seiler states, “ (the field trip) opened my eyes to different religions and the prejudices we all have because of the media and the distorted projection of Islam. We all need to be more tolerant of people and realize the power of our actions. It was a great field trip and I think that everyone left with a lot more knowledge and understanding.”

Posted by on January 19, 2012. Filed under School News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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