RITES OF PASSAGE: A STEPPING STONE TOWARDS TOLERANCE IN AN EDUCATIONAL CONTEXT

C. Van Kerckhove, C. De Kock

University College Ghent (BELGIUM)
The project Rites of Passage wishes to contribute to the creation of tools for social workers in their action for a more harmonious society by bringing attention to the value of both diversity and similarities between different people and peoples. Trough the recognition of the "same" in the otherness of the other, we tend to be more open to this same otherness and the alterity of other cultures. Rites of passage are for a social worker a unique lever to stimulate mutual tolerance between people. Recognition and acknowledgment come into being by referring to the universality of these rites of passage (birth, adolescence, marriage, death) while at the same time offering a possibility to share what is particular to our own culture. This project collects information about rites of passage in various cultures, philosophies and religions. The information is compiled in a book and is used to provide educational parcels on tolerance. In addition there are exhibitions, lectures, seminars,… Finely and most important we have created an education kit for High school students. In this oral presentation I will present them.

All activities have the same central objective in mind: creating more tolerance in our society. In all projects we have chosen an exemplary approach that addresses the question: “Can tolerance be promoted by referring to the universality of rituals?” The fact that different cultures, ideologies and religions have ‘rites of passage’, uppers the question whether there’s a kind of common humanity, a common denominator that connects all humans and whereby the other becomes a human just like us, it were just because we all ritualize or celebrate important moments in life. In this project we work with and about rites of passage in different philosophies and religions namely in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Secular humanism, Hinduism, Buddhism and in some cultures : the aboriginals, the Inuit, the Kuna Indians and the Bétamaribé.