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Building Bridges: Joining Hands Pilot Study

A Pilot Study was conducted to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the Building Bridges- Joining Hands study. Three schools in South Florida were involved: a Muslim Elementary & Middle School, a Catholic Private School, and a Jewish Day School.

Our First Conversation Boundary Breaking

The “Boundary Breaking” strategy is an effective and engaging strategy to help students of all ages become more comfortable with one another and get to know one another in significant ways. Subsequent video chats were in the form of “Grand Conversations ” based on highly respected, award-winning children’s literature. The first Grand Conversation was based on the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio. The story, both heartbreaking and inspiring, resonates with children and adults alike. It is a story that asks us to find the best in ourselves and one another and discover connections to our own lives.

Gathering Data Observation and Student Comments

Observations and the comments of students involved in the initiative helped us recognize the tremendous impact it made on them. During their conversations, as they connected with characters in the books read, students shared their feelings of being “different” and being looked at differently—- girls in the Muslim school wearing their hijabs (scarves), boys in the Jewish and Muslim schools wearing their head coverings.  They began seeing their similarities, recognizing their differences, and acknowledging just how much they have in common.

Building bridges with people as it may lead somewhere unexpected and beautiful.

Results At the End of One Semester

In response to the prompt, “When I began working on “Building Bridges, I never imagined…” one student wrote, “I never imagined I would be making new friends from a different school and religion…one thing I learned was that just because we are different in some ways doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.” At the beginning of the project, another student asked, “Why would we want to meet them—they hate us?” She no longer believes this!

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This program is sponsored in part by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation