- Sponsorship -

Students explore many ways of worship

Brothers Vishnu and Krishna Mano spoke of Hindu faith traditions they observe with their family: lighting a lamp in the evening to symbolize good luck, and praying in the morning and before bed.

The boys, eighth- and fifth-graders, respectively, who attend Forest Hills Public Schools, know a lot about Hinduism, and told 19 peers about the religion during the first-ever Interfaith Service Day Camp.They complemented Fred Stella’s lesson on the faith during a tour of the West Michigan Hindu Temple. Stella is “pracharak,” or outreach minister, at the Ada-based temple.

“I liked that I was educating other people about my faith,” said Vishnu, adding that Hinduism is a minority religion in the U.S. that not everyone knows much about. “Hinduism is not just religion, but the culture and way of life that follows it.”

“It’s cool learning about all the other religions, and learning that a religion I really didn’t know about is not that different than my own.”  — Grandville Middle School eighth-grader Radi Rashid

The four-day summer opportunity brought together West Michigan students representing several religious and non-religious backgrounds to explore faith, get to know one another, enjoy food and culture and volunteer. Students toured and met faith leaders at the Dominican Center at Marywood, Temple Emanuel, Masjid At-Tawheed, The Sikh Society of West Michigan Gurdwara, and West Michigan Hindu Temple. They provided service as well, such as volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.

West Michigan Hindu Temple “pracharak,” or outreach minister Fred Stella talks about Hinduism inside the temple

Students learned details and histories covering Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh religions.

“I experienced a lot of new things that were good for me,” Vishnu said. “I made new friends who are not in my faith. I feel like in these last four days I learned a lot about religion, not just through textbooks, but by experiencing it in their places of worship.”

Forming Interfaith Friendships

Representatives from Kaufman Interfaith Institute, at Grand Valley State University, hosted the camp to connect students from different faith backgrounds, build relationships and add youth voices to interfaith conversations.

“The overall mission (of the institute) is to promote mutual understanding, respect and dialogue across different faith traditions and world views in West Michigan,” said Kyle Kooyers, program manager for Kaufman Interfaith Institute, which has a theme this year of interfaith friendship.

Forest Hills student Vishnu Mano talks about Hinduism while Xander Brown listens

Campers represented Christian, Baha’i, Muslim and Hindu faiths and included atheists and those with no religious affiliation. To culminate the week, they shared ideas about what comes next for students in the area of interfaith work and what camp could include next year.

Highlights were participating in meditation; observing Muslim prayer, during which five Muslim campers joined; and learning about holy books, like the Torah, students said.

“I didn’t know a lot about that religion,” said Jenison High School sophomore Kate Boutell of Sikhism. “They are very inclusive and they recognize diversity of religions.”

Grandville Middle School eighth-grader Radi Rashid said he enjoyed exploring other religions and comparing it to his own, Islam.

“It’s cool learning about all the other religions, and learning that a religion I really didn’t know about is not that different than my own.”


Kaufman Interfaith Institute Introduces Year of Interfaith Friendship for 2018

- Sponsorship -
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2013. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.


The changing of guard – as long-time educator and AD welcomes a new one

Godwin Heights Football Coach Brandon Kimble will take over as the district’s athletic director when Robert Hisey, dean of students and athletic director, officially retires Nov. 2...

Whole-child advocates ready to lead, collaborate

SNN gets to know these new elementary principals in this edition of Meet the Principal...

Amid uncertainty, new protocols, there’s laughter, new connections

Junior Olivia Austin reflects on the first day of a very unique school year...

District welcomes new administrators, ready to ‘lead through uncharted waters’

New administrators share their thoughts on starting their posts during a pandemic...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Avid reader, Petoskey-stone hunter, lover of great outdoors

Melanie Hoeksema is the new Ada Elementary principal. SNN gets to know her in this edition of Meet Your Principal...

Wedding singer, home renovator, intentional leader

Kristen Pennington is the new Knapp Forest Elementary principal. SNN gets to know her in this edition of Meet Your Principal...

Grandville students start today, either in-person or remote

The remote learning option will be taught live by certified district teachers with a curriculum that mirrors the in-person option...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU