Around the world (religions) in 4 hours

Not many people are rushing to Queens today — with the Swine Flu and all — but I just got back from a fast-paced day in Flushing.

I went on my first class trip in some time, tagging along with several “world religion” classes from the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry.

A couple of years ago, I visited the Masters School to write about a Buddhist monk who was creating a mandala, an artwork of sand. One of the teachers told me that “world religions” is a required course at the school and that each class takes a one-day field trip to houses of worship from several traditions.

I thought it would make a good story. And now it is.

Two busloads of students, teachers and parents (plus me) headed out this morning to Flushing, believed to be one of the most diverse places in the world. (When I covered Billy Graham’s last crusade there in 2005, I certainly got the sense that this was true.)

We went to a Russian Orthodox Church (located in a former Lutheran church), a Daoist temple, a mosque and a Hindu temple.

Since this was a one-day crash course (crash trip doesn’t sound right) and the students had to get back to Dobbs for afternoon sports, we could only spend about 45 minutes at each stop. So we got a brief introduction at each house of worship before students got the chance to ask questions.

Then we were on to the next stop.

It was a great, if brief, education for the students, who got to see people who practice the religions they study in class.

I’ll write more about it at some point this week.

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.