Why Al Amana Centre & Hope College Students Talk About Their Experiences in Oman

 

Why Al Amana Centre

  • The world needs its people of faith to build sustainable Peace/Salam/Shalom that de-escalates violence and promotes mutual understanding and respect.
  • There are few places in the world with the unique history, context, and geography to create a space for relationship among Muslims, Christians, and other religions in a way that promotes tolerance, mutual understanding and empathy, reconciliation and Shalom/Salam.
  • Increased religious understanding and literacy is possible through experiential learning and proximity with those with diverse religious experiences.

“This trip has helped humanize people of different faith and given me skills to relate to Muslims” – Hope College Student

In May 2023 we welcomed students and faculty from Hope College in Holland, Michigan, USA. Even before they got off the plane, they were invited by an Omani to join him and his friends for soccer near by the Centre.

The Hope Students travelled 7340 miles (as the crow flies) to learn about Oman, global Christianity, and Islam. Many of them came never having a direct conversation about faith with a Muslim or religious other, but they wanted to have these conversations and learn from them. They bravely came and spent two weeks with us on an unforgettable journey.

Some of them came with pre-conceived notions of what Al Amana Centre was about. Some of them came with primarily negative stereotypes of Muslims. Some of them came wanting to learn skills in dialogue.

When they left Oman, they left with Muslim friends. They left with new knowledge and skills. They experienced fellowship with Christians from around the world. They were able to ask questions that they had never dared to ask. They left with a deeper understanding of their own faith, and a deep appreciation and understanding of faith traditions that were not their own.

During the final feedback session we witnessed and captured how these students lived into the “why” of Al Amana Centre:

  • The power of experiential learning continues to show itself in how these students’ lives were changed. One student proclaimed at the end of the trip, “For those who have assumptions, questions, and doubts about the work here come see it for yourself! They’ll first greet you with Omani dates and coffee!”
  • Another student told us, “This trip has helped humanize people of different faiths and given me skills to relate to Muslims so that when I go back home I will be able to understand the framework to relate to Muslims better.” I trust they will go home and work for sustainable peace in their community.
  • Finally, a student said, “Yes, I have developed the ability to connect with others that may not see eye to eye.” At Al Amana Centre and in Oman, they were able to create a space to learn to live with difference and cooperate for a shared future.

The words of the students, powerfully captured in the videos below, help share the impact of the experience of engaging the Al Amana Centre.

 

 

 

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