The Gift of Dialogue!
We know you know what impact DIALOGUE can have in places where religious, cultural and ideological difference leads so often to CONFLICT and VIOLENCE.
So does Abdalla (pictured here).
Abdalla is originally from Iraq, and for the past two-plus years has served as an intern and volunteer with the Dialogue Institute (DI), helping to run our core program—the Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSI) on Religious Pluralism in the United States.
He was born and raised in Baghdad, the son of a Sunni Kurd mother and a Shiite Arab father. For a long time Abdalla considered that diversity in his family a “curse.” He grew up in an area inhabited mainly by Sunni Muslims, but with the invasion of Iraq in 2003 he had to move—at the age of 13—to his grandparents’ home in Al-Najaf, a center of Shiite Islam. Being exposed to both schools of religious practice led mostly to confusion for Abdalla, caught in the middle of a much larger conflict: “Everything around me was ‘black’ and ‘white,’” he says, “with no other colors in between because that meant only one thing: you are different.” He “felt like a wrecked ship in a rough sea with no shore in sight.”
With some international travel at the age of 16, Abdalla was exposed for the first time to people of different faiths—including those whose minority status invited prejudice. He had more and more questions. And he had a growing instinct to speak up for oppressed religious minorities within his own community. But he didn’t know how.
That changed in the summer of 2013 with his participation in the DI’s five-week SUSI program. Abdalla’s introduction to dialogue—particularly to interreligious, interfaith dialogue—gave him a new and valuable tool to engage across deep difference: “The whole concept of keeping my faith while understanding, respecting and actually listening to the other side through a dialogue has shaped the person I am today. Interfaith dialogue was the key to how I could approach others around misconceptions and generalizations.”
DIALOGUE MAKES A DIFFERENCE, but only where people are trained to use it. YOUR DONATION TODAY makes that training possible.
We thank you in advance for your support, and for partnering with the Dialogue Institute and Journal of Ecumenical Studies to make a more peaceful world possible through DIALOGUE.
Rebecca Mays Leonard Swidler
Executive Director Founder & President
* You also have the opportunity—instead of or in addition to supporting the Annual Fund—to double your donation through a $25,000 Matching Gift Fund established by Temple University. The fund was created to help enable a full-time graduate intern at the DI/JES for at least the 2016-2017 academic year, but we need to raise $25,000 to match Temple's gift to make that happen. Every dollar you give unlocks another dollar, bringing us closer to our goal! Click here to learn more.