(CBS) — Before they learn they are different, teach them how much they are the same.
That’s the goal of a unique cultural exchange program, right in our own backyard.
CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole was there as 150 students from three separate faiths bonded.
Students who attend a Morton Grove mosque taught students from other religious backgrounds about their Muslim faith.
“Kids are curious — that’s what’s so great about having this program,” says Habeeb Quadri of Muslim Community Center Academy.
The learning continues in interactive workshops, where 150 middle-schoolers from Catholic, Muslim and Jewish schools come together to learn about their differences.
“At my school I don’t meet a lot of kids of different religions because it’s a Jewish school,” student Eliza Lampert of Bernard Zell School.
“Honestly, for myself, I learned about religious leaders I had no idea existed,” seventh-grader Suraiya Omar says.
And what ultimately makes them the same.
“I knew they had different customs, but I knew we are all human,” student Marty Canavan says.
The exchange is sponsored by the Olive Tree Arts Network, a not-for-profit that works to unite students of different faiths.
The Muslim Community Center Academy, Bernard Zell Jewish Day School, and St. John Fischer School participated in Thursday’s exchange.
They’ve been taking turns visiting the various campuses. Next month, they’ll spend a morning at Bernard Zell.