As the World Tolerance Summit (WTS) kicks off in Dubai, the spotlight is on the youth to spread tolerance in their schools, universities and communities. The two-day summit is being held under the theme: ‘Prospering from Pluralism: Embracing Diversity through Innovation and Collaboration’. Students from over 15 universities in the UAE are part of the summit that aims to establish a culture of openness and civilised dialogue and contribute to the rejection of extremism.
Gulf News speaks to some of them from diverse nationalities and a range of schools and universities to find out what tolerance means to them.
Arvind Sethu, 15, Indian, Year 11 student of Jumeirah College
“For me tolerance is the ability to accept another person’s opinions culture and traditions, whether or not you believe them yourself. It is all about being understanding, accepting and considerate. I have friends from different backgrounds and we all get along really well. I am a foodie and for me personally having access to various cuisines in the UAE is an example how how tolerant we are as a nation.
Hala Raied Ariqat, 17, Emirati, first-year under-graduate student, majoring in Social Research and Public Policy, NYU, Abu Dhabi
“Tolerance is the active coexistence of various cultures and UAE is a fine example of this. The UAE is a melting pot where we have people from various backgrounds living in harmony.”
Alex Ansidei, 15, French, Grade 10 student at Lycee Francais International de l’Aflec
“Tolerance is respecting others regardless of their religion or nationality. It is about having a fair and objective attitude towards others whose lifestyle differs from yours.”
Kate Roska, 17, Filipina, first year under-graduate majoring in mass communication at Curtin University.
“The UAE is truly an example of a tolerant nation. It has given opportunities to people from different backgrounds and this has encouraged me as an individual to be more accepting. Tolerance is also about having an open mind about learning new things.”
Shivani Mathur, 19, Indian third-year undergraduate student majoring in media studies at Middlesex University
For me, tolerance represents virtues such as acceptance and inclusion. Respect for people different from you, whether it is because of their cultural backgrounds, abilities, race and ethnicity or belief systems – all this amounts to being tolerant. Removing ignorant and discriminatory attitudes as well as bullying and bias against people different from yourself, through awareness is an important step to further propel tolerance among the youth and people.
Lavanya Kauffmann, 14, German, Year 10 student at Dubai International Academy
For me tolerance is the ability to respect people even though they may be different to what we are comfortable with. It is also being able to support and accept everyone regardless of the fact that they may be different from you. Tolerance is very important today as it brings a sense of respect, individuality, diversity and peace among everyone.
Sandi Nkala, 18, Zimbabwean, Curtin University, Zimbabwean
Tolerance for me is a simple thought. It is all about accepting someone regardless of whether they connect with you or not. We all have different belief systems and thoughts and accepting everyone for who they are is being tolerant.
Abigail Spencer, 18, Jamaican, Year 1 media student at Middlesex University
“Tolerance, to me, is more than just showing other people respect. It is respect that has been birthed out of an attempt to understand others in our environment so as to communicate effectively and operate as a functional society. Understanding comes from learning and to learn, we must listen. We need to quiet our own voices for a moment as well as the initial assumption that we may hold in order to see another perspective and make decisions which benefit everyone. This means stepping out of our bubble of convenience and sometimes changing the way things are usually done. Tolerance is not just a statement, it is conscious actions that generate unity.”