By Kris Hancock, member of PTPI's Sheboygan, Wisconsin Chapter and participant in PTPI's School and Classroom Program
Pakinam Alfy, a teacher from Egypt whose students had been penpals with students in a Sheboygan Christian school for two years, was invited to be a guest of our Sheboygan, WI Chapter. Pakinam came to Sheboygan for a chapter meeting and discussed education in Egypt and her students’ experience in the School and Classroom Program
. She then visited the school and met the students who were penpals with her students. She spoke to the entire middle school student body, presenting a slide show on Egypt and her students, and participated in an Easter chapel experience.
There were strong positive comments from all adults and children involved in the visit. The penpal students brought items that they had saved, which had been gifts from their penpals. Some of the Christian students had been a little afraid of meeting a Muslim person – they live in a village where many adults had expressed fears about a mosque being built in the village two years earlier. Therefore, it was so rewarding to hear students comment “Mrs. Alfy was SO nice.” Fear had been removed, and suddenly teenage girls realized that this young Muslim woman was just like them – as they commented “I really like your purse” and “What do your students wear?”
This was an exciting experience for the chapter after two years of following the penpal project between the Christian and Muslim students. As the teacher of these students. I believe this was one of the most valuable learning experiences they have had in their middle school years. I also believe that many parents were touched by their students’ involvement in this project. Ideas and attitudes toward Muslim people definitely changed because of this project. It is a beautiful example of how the world can change by changing a community – through its children.
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