On Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, a group of select Weber students traveled to a Peace by Piece event at The Marist School. Participants included students from The Weber School, The Marist School and The W. D. Mohammed High School. From many applicants, few students are chosen to be a part of this exclusive program. Throughout the year, members of Peace by Piece from all affiliated schools meet periodically to discuss their religions.
Students arrived in the morning at Marist and spent the day on campus. The Weber and Mohammed Peace by Piece participants were able to attend a school-wide Mass in the sanctuary that was lead by multiple priests. Weber sophomore Emma Estroff explained that the Marist students sang worship songs and were actively involved in the ceremony. Talia Neufeld, a sophomore at The Weber School, stated that one new thing she learned was, “The details of a Catholic Mass service, and what each part of the service signified.” Witnessing the Mass was an eye-opening experience for Neufeld, and gave her a deeper understanding of Christian prayer. After the completion of Mass, the students were then split up into smaller groups to set out on a scavenger hunt throughout the school. Once the students finished lunch, they gathered to discuss different topics, such as religious traditions.
When asked how Peace by Piece has changed her perspective, Estroff stated, “Peace by Piece has broadened my perspective on how I view both Muslims and Christians. I was able to see and understand why my preconceptions I had about these other religions before meeting the Peace by Piece members were wrong and did not apply to everyone.” It is evident that through interacting with fellow teenagers and students, Peace by Piece participants are able to see otherwise unfamiliar religions on a personal level. Estroff also mentioned that faculty members brought up anti-semitism as a point of discussion and asked if they had ever experienced anti-semitic incidents or discrimination pertaining to their religion. According to Estroff, only Jewish and Muslim participants voted yes. Thereafter, students shared anecdotes of anti-semitism, and some Muslim members also voiced personal encounters with racial discrimination. The discussion shed light on the hardship of anti-semitism and racism.
The purpose of this particular meaning, Neufeld stated, “was to show high school students that they are all connected in some way or another, with their religious differences not having to impact the way in which we all socialize. We were able to meet this goal and not ignore these differences, but learn about them and also got to meet other high school students in private religious schools.” Neufeld marveled in the fact that the meeting allowed her to engage with the other members simply as teenagers, regardless of their religious differences. Estroff offered that, “The focus of our Peace by Piece gatherings is to be able to hang out and bond with people do you normally not see in your day to day lives.” She emphasizes the core value of Peace by Piece which is to build unique relationships between commonly unconnected individuals in our community.