ex:Change - Muslim and Christian Students Overcoming Stereotypes

by Nicole Gibson

In today’s world, media has an unprecedented power to either unite us or divide us on a global scale. Television, news, movies, internet, photographs. These things have the power to make the world smaller and bring us together with people and cultures we may never otherwise encounter. But these same things also have incredible power to cause misunderstanding, stereotypes, hatred, and fear.

It’s for this reason that Peace Catalyst is committed to is something we call Visual Peacemaking, which basically means visual media that works to break down stereotypes and prejudices instead of propagate them. And that’s why we’re excited about an upcoming micro-documentary project by our friend, Mario Mattei, President of the International Guild of Visual Peacemakers

"Popular rhetoric supposes Western and Islamic 'civilizations' are bound to 'clash.' But is this true?" 

That’s the question that drives Mario in making his new documentary called ex:Change, a video project that will explore stereotypes between Muslim and Western students in America, and how those stereotypes have been and can be overcome. As mario writes, "The proposed micro-documentary will reveal a heart-touching friendship between Molly (American) and Anum (Pakistani), as well as the positive and sometimes challenging experiences of four other Muslim exchange students in America (from Palestine, Sierra Leone, & Pakistan).

"Millions of Muslims around the world are being demonized as “extremists” or 'terrorists'... and as these Muslim youth mature amidst this global context, they find themselves struggling to dissociate themselves from extremism. Western youth approach adulthood pre-conditioned to fear Muslims. Likewise, young Muslims often perceive Western youth as unanimously materialistic, immoral, and arrogant--devoid of family values, faith, and honor."

The stereotypes go both ways and affect everyone involved. But that does not have to be the end of the story.

Check out a short clip of Mario’s proposed project, and read more about it on the ex:Change Kickstarter page