how can i advise a youth-mentorship organization to be sensitive to the cultural and religious needs of its young participants and their parents? this Q applies to a very diverse group of kids. the issues i've noticed so far have specifically affected the muslim kids.
posted by twistofrhyme to religion & philosophy (22 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
i work with a wonderful program that involves kids of varying faiths- definitely muslim and hindi, and i don't know what else- it's hard to say by guessing, and i don't want to ask the kids. i know there are kids from various african countries, including somalia and ethiopia, the west indies, the middle east, asia, southeast asia.... etc. this is in toronto, if that gives any clue as to how mixed this bunch is. there are relatively few white kids, and lots of first-generation kids and immigrants. the kids range from 8-14 years old.
the program is non-denominational, and organized by pretty secular people. i've observed some practices i suspect are inconsiderate to the religious kids- scheduling events on, or the morning after Eid, for instance, or serving pepperoni pizza for lunch. many of the kids and their parents are clearly uncomfortable making demands, and instead try to be accomodating (for instance, i saw a kid ask if the cheese contained rennet, and, getting no good answer, she only ate broccoli and fruit instead).
i would like the organization to be more sensitive to any relevant concerns, and i have no qualms about tactfully pointing out some of these issues- but i'd like to provide constructive suggestions when i do so. i'm specifically thinking about food and scheduling, but am very curious about other concerns i may not have thought of.
here's a quick rundown of the program:
lasts the duration of the school year. involves some saturday full-day activities (which are scheduled months in advance) and some phone activities (once a week for about 25 mins., flixible scheduling).
the kids all attend co-ed toronto-area public schools.
they wear their own clothes, with large program t-shirts overtop.
they are served bottled water, juice and milk in cartons, pizza (veggie, pepperoni, chicken, hawaiian) from a sponsor (pizza pizza, i think), fruit salad, veggies and dip, packaged granola bars and fruit snacks, and grocery store cookies (caramel, chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, M&M). the pizza is served by the latex-gloved hands of volunteer servers- so their gloves touch all varieties of pizza.
the authority figures are all adults, and all clearly jewish or christian-ish. although they are kind, i can see how a kid would be intimidated to make a religious request.
what can i suggest that will benefit these kids from now til may, and then to benefit all the kids forever after?
specifically, when are the religious holidays we'll need to schedule around?
how will we know when these fall in subsequent years?
any foods to try, or avoid?
things to find out about the foods we serve, so as to be able to answer questions?
is there anything i'm not thinking of?
please, no wrist-slapping here- i genuinely want to help, and am being reductive only so i can ask an answerable Q that doesn't drown in specifics (although, it's a pretty long Q, so i guess i failed there). also, please go easy on the program itself- they are *great*, and are doing incredible work with these kids. i'm 100% sure that the kids net way more benefit out of it than any non-denominational gaffe might cost them. besides, all mis-steps are due to ignorance, not insensitivity, and i know that if i suggest concrete changes, that they'll really try to implement them.
thanks in advance for your advice!