Feature image: Gallipoli Mosque, Auburn
Our most recent Program Participants embarked on a field trip to either Lakemba in Sydney’s south west, Auburn in Sydney’s west or Redfern in the inner city. They were encouraged to observe and interact with people of different cultures. Their reflections are below:
“We don’t know what we don’t know.” With this introduction, we placed ourselves in the hands of our soon-to-be guide to the life and culture of Zetland Mosque. No question was off limit and our host delighted in explaining the symbols and practices of his community. We got lost in conversation for over an hour hearing of the joys and challenges that this man encountered with the life he built in Australia. We took a similar approach to entering the Yiu Ming Temple 5 minutes’ walk away and were similarly treated to the sharing of life and story complete with movie references and cross-cultural attempts at humour and finding common ground. This simple experience helped us to recognise the hidden gems in our own local communities and the opportunities to share more fully in the gifts of other cultures.
The field visits were a special treat to end the weeklong training, and we all felt uplifted by the magic of “our shared world,” as it unfolded spontaneously around each of the groups on their journey into mystery (and wonder, in humanity’s best blessing, generous welcome to strangers). Thank you for this unique gift to end a very special experience for us all.
The field trip was an excellent finale as it was a 100% real encounter with strangers. My group were welcomed into two community spaces and, through the kindness of some people willing to give us their time for a conversation, we learned some more about another culture that is present right here in our city.
Fr John V
On the last day of Neighbours Without Borders training, on Wednesday 11 January 2023 four of us were sent on a Field trip to Auburn Gallipoli Mosque in Sydney. The Field Day visit gave me so much excitement, engagement and experience. When I arrived at the Mosque, it seemed like I went into a total new and strange environment because I haven’t visited a Mosque. So everything was new to me. I was a bit nervous. But after saying hello to everybody and a short conversation, I felt more confident and a warm welcome. Then Urgun Genel, General Manager and Tours Coordinator, gave us a tour around the Mosque and then inside the Mosque. He explained everything. It’s amazing information. He also answered any questions we had. The useful information helped me to open my eyes and understand more about their cultures, beliefs and practices.
For a break, we walked down to shops, said hello to local people and engaged with them listening to their stories. They were quite friendly and gentle. We stopped for lunch at one shop and for a cup of Turkish coffee at another one. Then we walked back the Mosque to attend the prayer service. I did not understand the prayer at all but by the way they prayed I experienced something very spiritual and profound. They were so focused on their prayers and the God they were worshipping. In short, it was a significant day for me. I learned a lot. I experienced a lot. I believe it helps me to appreciate other cultures, beliefs and know how to help other people in society and in my community.
Initially I felt challenged stepping out of my comfort zone however, on reflection, my field experience was a different point of view. During my visit to the Gallipoli Mosque, I learned a lot about the experiences, skills, resources, and resilience that other cultures bring to their host country. I learned the importance of building relationship with other cultures. In conclusion, my field experience has helped me to not see diversity as a problem but as a gift and how I would use these gift to enrich others.
The Palms field experience was an opportunity to reflect on the cultural and religious diversity that contributes to the richness which Australia is truly fortunate to have.