Two sides of the world


As an AFS YES High School Exchange Student who grew up in the biggest Muslim country in the world, Indonesia, I have not been exposed to different religions, which is one reason why the U.S. State Department sponsored my year in America.
On Dec. 3, in an intense evening, teens in both the Jewish and Muslim worlds shared our faiths. The Muslim AFS Yes Team toured Congregation Beth El in Bethesda, had pizza together, then took the comparative religions class to a mosque, and finished with a Chanukah celebration at Beth El.
That night I had a chance to see the other side of a world that I had not seen. During the Beth El tour, I witnessed someone passionately practicing for her bat mitzvah; saw the synagogue and what Jews wear to pray; and learned general information about Jewish beliefs. Later, the eighth-graders explained the meaning of Chanukah and how to play dreidel while we ate latkes and chocolate gelt. In a pool of difference, it feels good that I can see similarities with Islam.
Then, it was our turn to show them our world with a tour and prayers at the mosque at the Islamic Education Center. When I hopped on the bus and saw the girls being respectful by wearing headscarves the way I do, it made me so excited. We chatted with each other and I asked about them being Jewish and shared my experience being Muslim in the USA. Being Jewish is their side of the world and surprisingly they had good, general knowledge about Islam. My side of world is praying and hearing Adzan (call to prayer) five times a day. When we showed them how to pray, they were so excited to follow our movement.
There is togetherness in sharing our differences. Our evening going to a Jewish temple and bringing them to mosque is a new experience; partaking in the sides of the world that are new for both of us, helping two different worlds become one.
Avianda Riana Putri is a participant of the AFS Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program, sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

Never miss a story.
Sign up for our newsletter.
Email Address


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here