Eighth Grade Visits Islamic Cultural Center and St. John the Divine

IMG_0189 On January 29, Ross School eighth graders traveled to New York City to visit the Islamic Cultural Center of New York and the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. The trip offered an opportunity to expand their studies of Islamic culture, symbolism from the medieval period, and the history of Northern Europe.

“This trip gives students an opportunity to truly experience reverence for the architectural and historical significance of these global landmarks,” eighth grade teacher Mark Tompkins said.

At the Islamic Cultural Center, the first building in Manhattan erected as a mosque, the students observed midday prayers in a smaller room reserved for daily services. They met the Center’s imam, who discussed the mosque’s architecture and stressed the importance of its interfaith outreach.

“Meeting with the imam and observing the respectful practices inside the mosque provides a surprising sense of quiet and inclusion,” Mark said.

Students took in the silent beauty of the carvings and calligraphy on the walls, paying special attention to the mihrab, a niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca, and the point Muslims face when praying.

“I loved the feeling of a serenity as soon as I entered the mosque,” said eighth grader Peter Byung Jin Kim.

Next, the class visited Saint John the Divine, where they took a tour from a guide who compared the cathedral’s structure to that of a medieval cathedral and identified stories and symbols depicted by the stained glass windows, sculptures, tapestries, and brasses throughout the building. Students learned the church is more than 120 years old, and is the largest cathedral in the world, despite its incomplete construction.

“This field trip was a priceless experience for me and I will keep these valuable memories forever," Peter said.