In many cities in the U.S. and countries in the world, religious freedom and/or belief systems that are different from the majority are not accepted nor tolerated. In some countries, you may find that religion plays a more powerful role in politics and national identity for its citizens. For example, a student who studied abroad in Morocco was surprised about how Islam permeated every aspect of her daily life while studying abroad despite that she herself does not identify as Muslim. In other places around the world, religion has no place at all in society. In preparing for your study abroad experience, it is important to reflect upon the role that religion plays in your own life and how your religious identity or spiritual beliefs may be received by the host community. Some questions that may help you anticipate challenges include:
- What is the dominant religion in the host community and what role does it play for community members? Which are the major holidays observed/celebrated?
- Which religious or spiritual groups are more marginalized and what are the general attitudes towards groups differing from the majority?
- What is your own religion and what implications may it have on how others perceive you?
- Where and how can you worship in the host community?
Office for Multicultural Learning
Student and staff facilitated dialogue sessions during academic year for SCU community about various topics pertaining to identity on and off campus.
- Perspectives Dialogue Sessions
- Difficult Dialogues
“Both of my host families were open and accepting of my religious beliefs.”
“Maintaining respect during cross-cultural contact is very important – especially for religion.”
“To quote Carlos Celdran, a famous Filipino performance artist, ‘To be Filipino is to be Catholic.’ The people, while devout, are not proselytizing, and they will not force their faith on the nonreligious. This poses a problem, however for students who wish to attend non-Catholic services, for they will have to go out of their way to find a church that caters to their faith.”