[Photo credit: Melody Heart Photography]
Alfred Adler, founder of the school of individual psychology, once said: “Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.”
On Thursday 19 October, hundreds of NSW high school students got a chance to do just that when they gathered in Sydney for the NSW Youth Summit.
The Summit, held at the Parliament of NSW and St Stephen’s Uniting Church in Sydney, saw the students make passionate and articulate presentations on real-world issues they’ve personally experienced, and suggest their own solutions to inspire greater unity.
There is more that unites us than divides us
Together For Humanity, an inclusive educational organisation focused on fostering intercultural understanding within school communities, organised the Summit, which is just one of its many programs inspiring young people to engage with each other across cultural and social divides.
“By empowering young people and giving them the tools to challenge prejudice, we can help them to shape a more tolerant society,” Together For Humanity Dean and Founder Rabbi Zalman Kastel AM said.
Schools involved represent NSW’s Independent, Catholic and Government sectors, with Catholic, Islamic, Jewish and other faiths represented.
Government schools that attended were The Forest High School, Birrong Girls High School, Inner Sydney High School, Pendle Hill High School, Broken Hill High School, Willyama High School (Broken Hill), Asquith Girls High School, St George Girls High School and Barrenjoey High School.
“It is important for our students to be involved in initiatives like the Together For Humanity NSW Youth Summit because it offers them a unique opportunity for personal growth where they can be active participants in building an inclusive future,” Nicole Gurney, Student Representative Council Coordinator at Broken Hill High School said. “That’s one reason why we are willing to travel so far to take part.”
Independent schools that attended were Bellfield College, Oxley College (Burradoo), Australian International Academy Sydney Strathfield Campus, Emanuel School and Knox Grammar School.
“Having our students engage in conversations about the realities of prejudice and discrimination, and allowing them to work with students from other schools to come up with solutions, will give them valuable insights and skills that will serve them well throughout their lives,” Sam Ashton, Gifted & Talented Coordinator at Bellfield College said.
Catholic schools that attended were St Luke's Catholic College and Delany College.
“The Together For Humanity NSW Youth Summit goes beyond traditional classroom learning and enables students to become responsible global citizens. Such initiatives encourage respect for others and can inspire positive change,” said Mr Bruce Carr, Assistant Principal at Delaney College.
The Summit was also attended by several politicians and community leaders, including Premier Chris Minns, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party Natalie Ward, and Peter Kensey, Director, Social Cohesion and Languages, Teaching and Learning at the Federal Education Department.
“The Youth Summit offers a chance for their views to be heard and for them to listen to the insights of their peers, challenging their own perceptions and helping them come to understand others’ unique situations and cultural differences,” Kastel said.
“They will leave equipped with the knowledge and confidence to be advocates for inclusion within their schools and communities.”