By Sapeer Mayron…

The need for more opportunities for Kiwi youth from different cultures to meet and mingle was one of the key takeaway points from an interfaith dinner in Wellington this week.

The Pearl of the Islands Foundation hosted a parliamentary dinner for Iftar, which is the dinner eaten by Muslims celebrating Ramadan when they fast during the day until sunset.

New Zealand’s Jewish youth were represented at the dinner by Wellingtonian Mili De Mayo who attended alongside Bahai, Muslim, Hindu, and Catholic young people.

But the dinner was more than food and socialising.

The theme of the event was Cultural Diversity in Diversity and Development, and guest speaker Professor Douglass Pratt from Waikato University gave a talk on the theme.

Mili said the dinner was an opportunity to get a taste of Muslim culture and learn from her peers.

“During the speeches everyone had such great things to say,” she said.

“It made me want to look deeper into religion because it’s interesting to me to see how we all come out as pretty cool people from really different ways of looking at life.”

Earlier in the week, the youth representatives from the different faiths met up over coffee to talk about the theme and compose a speech for the dinner.

Mili said the thing they all agreed on was how they would love more opportunities like the dinner to mingle with other faiths.

“We said that though we have come so far in accepting and understanding other cultures, we could still see how there were some places where there is still a divide.

“Having more spaces to connect with multiple ethnicities and understand each other would be great.”

Attending the dinner on behalf of the community felt really important, Mili said.

“It makes you want to give your input, and be a part of this great thing.”

Mili said one of the speeches explored the different stages of integrating different cultures and religions.

“He said it can go from tolerating people that aren’t like yourself, to accepting and then to integrating them. Integrating is so that it’s just all us, not us and them.”