The 2022 Winter Olympic Games will bring together athletes from more than 90 countries. It is perhaps the most visible example of individuals from diverse cultures uniting in a common pursuit. The Olympic Games provide a fitting backdrop against to learn about different cultures, creeds, and even religions. The New York-based Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding had this in mind when it created its World Olympics curriculum for educators.

Founded in 1992, the Tanenbaum Center is a secular nonprofit organization that works to promote justice and build respect for religious differences.

"We believe that religion is a big part of identity for people, and we don't have as many skills for addressing religious differences as we do for other kinds of difference such as racial, cultural and gender," explains Lydia Baek, manager of Institutional Giving at the Tanenbaum Center. "We focus on religion and help people build skills to have respectful conversations that express curiosity, openness, and a desire for learning."

In 2021, the Nissan Foundation awarded the Tanenbaum Center a grant to help fund its World Olympics curriculum, through which educators can teach their students the necessary skills to demonstrate respectful curiosity about differences.

Through hands-on, literacy-based activities, the curriculum is geared toward students in grades three through eight. It stresses the importance of respecting and including everyone in the spirit of teamwork and fair play – all while strengthening student's academic skills and fostering their social and emotional growth.

"The curriculum takes this example of an event where people with vast differences come together in a spirit of mutual respect and fair play," says Daniel del Nido, senior education program associate at the Tanenbaum Center. "We leverage these skills as well as curiosity and sportspersonship, ultimately encouraging educators to put on their own Olympic Games."

The curriculum, del Nido, explains helps teachers broach the "third rail" that is often religion.

"Teachers will say they learn in teacher education programs that religion shouldn't be talked about in schools, that there's too much tension and controversy around it," del Nido notes. "We try to provide structured spaces where teachers can share about religious and cultural diversity in a way that respects that distinction between teaching about religion and teaching religion."

The Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding is a nine-time Nissan Foundation grantee. Like the Nissan Foundation, the Tanenbaum Center is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2022.

Established in 1992, the mission of the Nissan Foundation is to build community through valuing cultural diversity. Over the last 30 years, the Nissan Foundation has awarded more than $13 million nonprofit organizations that support the Foundation's mission. The Nissan Foundation is part of Nissan Americas' commitment to enriching people's lives by helping to meet the needs of communities throughout the U.S. through philanthropic investments, corporate outreach sponsorships and other charitable contributions. More information about the Nissan Foundation can be found online at

Issued by Nissan


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