Dispatches from Istanbul

Our EVP checks in from the Alliance of Civilizations Forum in Turkey

There is a lot that happens at the Alliance of Civilizations. There are meetings, sessions, plenaries. I am committed to going to as many as I can.

But what also happens is that you begin to see familiar faces. It’s reinforcing to be with so many people dedicated to the vision that we share = that we can find our way to a functioning, collaborative, Alliance of Civilizations. I saw many people I have met before, and was gratified by what I heard.

One woman came and asked if I remembered her. I did remember her, but not the context of our conversation four years ago. She reminded me. Her work is in education and after spending a day at Tanenbaum and with our staff and me, she changed her approach, took more time to seriously prepare her curricular toolkit on intergroup relations and is now disseminating it with great success. She said, “I took your advice, and we were really thoughtful about our project.” I was totally surprised and she promised to send me the toolkit.

I also was a discussant at the Network of European Foundation’s breakfast session on Religion in a Global Society and talked about religion and healthcare. I spoke about our Healthcare program and was again gratified when several people said they wanted our help and several others introduced themselves,because we’d spoken on the phone but never met. It’s amazing how you can know people through phones, email and not in person.

My greatest treat came at night, when I was getting dessert and bumped into Azi Hussain, one of our Peacemakers. I almost jumped out of my skin. We were so happy to see each other and since we were staying in the same hotel, we got to spend some time just catching up. Azi’s work is so amazing, and it still amazes him. He told me this night about a man who is focusing on how the Qur’an teaches justice for all people. After training thousands of madrasa leaders, Azi is still moved by the educators that he meets and eager to share their stories.