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Christchurch students develop cultural awareness initiative

Thursday, 25 July 2019

student-on-hare-krishna-visit-image
A Christchurch campus student in a Hare Krishna temple, during a visit to help raise awareness of different cultures.

Staff and students from the University of Otago, Christchurch visited a Hare Krishna temple recently as part of an initiative to raise awareness of different cultures.

About a dozen staff and students visited the temple and learned about the essence of the faith, which drives from Hinduism, and shared food and conversation during the Postgraduate Society of Christchurch (PSOC)-arranged visit.

PSOC president Linda Buss said following the mosque attacks, senior Christchurch staff such as the Dean Professor David Murdoch were keen to promote a greater cultural awareness on campus. In response to this, Ms Buss and her committee suggested arranging cultural visits this year to raise awareness of different cultures present in Christchurch and learn about different ways of thinking.

During the first of the cultural visits planned, the Hare Krishna temple president welcomed the group and spoke about the concepts of karma and reincarnation, and consideration of the importance of all living beings.

“He emphasised their focus on serving others and the community. He also mentioned that there are books and books of teachings, and similarly to how he would not be able to understand the research of a nuclear physicist, it is impossible to have a full understanding of any religion without taking the time to fully immerse in it,” Ms Buss said.

People who attended the temple said the visit offered a different perspective and broadening of horizons, she said.

“The feeling I got from everyone was that it was very relaxing, informative and just nice to be doing something outside of our usual grind. It was great to hear about a different way of thinking – we get so used to moving in circles of people who think in similar ways to us that we tend to forget (or are unaware) that there are other perspectives that can offer greater understanding of those around us.”