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Engaging with diversity: a case study of the intercultural experiences of Muslim and non-Muslim students in an Australian school

Muslim students Multicultural education Cultural diversity Language and languages Schools Students South Australia
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This case study has explored how Muslim and non-Muslim students, school leadership, counsellors, teachers and parents reflect on, interpret and manage the experience of engagement and exchange in the context of a Catholic girls' high school (Years 8 to 12) in South Australia.

The study explored how students in a highly diverse school experienced interacting within and between their languages, cultures and faiths.The findings highlight how students, and the school community more broadly, interpret, reflect on and manage reflexively the phenomenon of diversity. The role of languages and cultures is seen as key in mediating and creating spaces for diverse ways of knowing and learning, believing and being, and ultimately, belonging. This is significant when we learn that more students at the school are multilingual than monolingual, and 50 percent of the students are not Catholic, but Muslim. From the perspective of students and the school community, understanding one another in terms of a Muslim and non-Muslim distinction is considered to be an overly simplistic representation of their experience of interacting in diversity. The faith-based nature of the school facilitates a supportive response to the diverse religious identities and needs of the students, and there is an emphasis on creating a whole-of-school culture of learning and understanding through an ongoing dialogue of engagement and reciprocity.

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