Who is My Neighbor?
Elizabeth Verdeck
By Elizabeth Verdeck
7th Grade Teacher
Social Studies, Religion, and ELL
September 27, 2018 
In the Gospel of Luke, a religious scholar poses an important question to Jesus; he asks, “who is my neighbor?” Jesus responds with the well-known parable of the Good Samaritan, illustrating that even the people we least like and least understand are, indeed, our neighbors. This was not really what the religious scholar wanted to hear. Sometimes, this is a message we are also reluctant to hear. That’s why it is so important to take the time to get to know each other. When people stop being strangers, we can start to be friends. In 7th grade, we are exploring these themes concurrently in religious studies and social studies.  
In religious studies, we have been talking about Goal 4: Building Community as a Christian Value. Students looked at many of the examples of community that St. Paul presents in his letters, paraphrasing his words and deciding how to apply his lessons to their own lives. Now we are working to recognize what we give to our communities and what we receive in return. As we continue to focus on Goal 4, we’re examining the values that drive us to build a compassionate, inclusive community that celebrates and supports our unique identities.
Meanwhile in social studies, we are immersing ourselves in an exploration of culture. No one exists in a vacuum; we are all shaped by society and our own experiences. Our culture reflects what is important to us. It informs and shapes how we see the world, others, and ourselves. As we encounter people with different values and customs, they can seem strange and, to quote a 7th grader, “sort of weird.” Instead of seeing different as weird, we’re working toward a multicultural perspective that sees different as beautiful.  
Today the 7th graders presented personal posters that share insights into their own cultural backgrounds. They celebrated what was special about themselves and each other. Food, of course, was a favorite topic. My favorite parts of the project were seeing the girls delight in sharing about themselves and hearing their individual insights – such as how challenging it can be to straddle two cultures.  
Ultimately, a Forest Ridge education provides the opportunity for students to practice the skills they need to grow as global citizens. When someone asks, “who is my neighbor?” our girls will answer, “everyone.”
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