"SUSI was an exceptional program, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I continue to live everyday with its memories and moral teachings. I absolutely did not know what to expect when I first applied to the SUSI program, but the one thing I knew was that I was eager to travel and discover new religions. The program gave me the opportunity to visit religious sites that I would never have dreamed of visiting back in Iraq. But the one thing I am forever grateful that I learned from this program is the practice of interfaith dialogue. That whole concept of keeping my faith while understanding, respecting and actually listening to the other side through a dialogue has since shaped the person I am today. Interfaith dialogue was the key to how I could approach others around certain misconceptions and generalizations. The Dialogue Institute allowed me to know my own value through the power of dialogue, where I overcome my fears and prejudgments with an open heart looking for peace in this world."
Following his SUSI experience, Abdalla returned to Iraq to start implementing his action plan, what he called The Humanity Republic. With an observed rise in atheism, agnosticism, sectarianism and religious extremism, his goal was to bring together youth in Iraq, regardless of their faith background or identity, into small dialogue activities across the country—with a focus on Kurdistan.
However, after a few months, Abdalla had an opportunity to go back to the United States and finish his bachelor's degree in accounting at New Jersey City University (which he did in 2015). He immediately contacted the Dialogue Institute upon his return, eager to stay connected to the SUSI program that had meant so much to him. He is still living and working in the U.S., and has been serving ever since as both a volunteer and a paid program associate.
Abdalla remains eager for any and every opportunity to advance his understanding of other religions and interfaith dialogue, and he continues to advocate for religious minority groups and against religious extremism in the Middle East through various non-governmental organizations, as well as through social media.