Seeing children come together to create art is always a joy. Seeing children from across two cultures come together to share cultural understanding in the creation of art is even better. Last weekend, I was privileged to experience the latter in the course of running a workshop as part of the Headingley Literature Festival 2012.
Children aged 12-17 from a local mosque and a local synagogue spent two hours learning the practice of calligraphy, but more importantly, the connections and similarities between the Hebrew and Arabic alphabets and were encouraged to explore and experiment with writing out letters from both alphabets.
There was something magical about hearing young Muslims discussing their favourite Hebrew letter, and seeing young Jewish kids producing beautiful patterns composed of Arabic letters. And best of all was watching it happen as they sat comfortably and happily and enthusiastically in tight circles on the floor scribbling and playing together.
Baby steps towards mutual understanding perhaps, but vitally important nonetheless.