Mark Roberts, our youth work coordinator, discovered that while we may think we’re imparting wisdom on the young people we work with, we can actually learn a whole lot from them.
I met a young person on the Eastwood estate as part of the Regenerate bus project. She is from Pakistan and is part of the Ahmadiyya denomination of Islam. She explained to me that her family left Pakistan because of the conflict between denominations, in fact her families lives were threatened. In Pakistan you will be tortured for being part of the Ahmadiyya. It was the first group to give women rights and blamed for the rise of the Taliban. Some of the other denominations don’t believe they are Muslim.
This young woman taught me about her culture. For example when a baby is born a goat is sacrificed, “when I first went to Pakistan I thought the goat was a pet, it wasn’t until dinner that I realised that I was eating the goat”. The goat is also given to relatives and friends. “In the UK we don’t sacrifice so we give sweets to the community instead to celebrate the baby coming”. This seems the antithesis of the more material culture where the baby is celebrated by giving presents to the family.
The conversation with this young woman helped me understand a part of her world. She could be seen to be giving (knowledge) and I was receiving (insight), in this way she was teaching me.