The Shi'a-Mennonite exchange had its origins in tragedy. In June 1990 there was a massive earthquake in Manjil–Rudbar, Iran with a reported death toll of 40–50,000. A four-person MCC delegation visited the site and a material aid and reconstruction response ensued in cooperation with the Iranian Red Crescent Society and The Housing Foundation. It soon became clear that both sides were interested in relating at another level, one where differences and similarities of faith and culture could be discussed. Hence, by the mid-1990s student exchanges were set up where Iranian students from the Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute (IKERI) in Qom came to Toronto to study and several North America Mennonite students went to Qom.
The sessions are open to the public. Presenters will have the first opportunity for interaction and then it will be opened to observers. Presenters will have 30 minutes to present their paper which will be followed by a brief discussion dealing with questions of clarification. In addition there will be two or three one hour sessions devoted entirely to response/discussion with presenters and observers. These sessions will take place after three or four papers have been presented and they will involve both the Iranian and local youth. This is especially important because the topic for this round of dialogue is "Religion and Youth." We hope that creating this space for discussion will deepen the interaction and foster opportunity for empathetic understanding.
This event is sponsored by the Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute, Qom, Iran, Mennonite Central Committee, Conrad Grebel University College, Center for Interfaith Engagement at Eastern Mennonite University, Canadian Mennonite University, and the Government of Canada's Ministry of Canadian Heritage.
We expect all the presenters from Iran and from North America to arrive on March 7 in the afternoon. Out of town observer guests should plan to arrive in the afternoon as well. Dinner will be available at 5:00 PM. Local observer guests may arrive after dinner, but we hope that everyone will attend the opening event on March 7 at 7:00 PM.
The opening event on March 7 will introduce our presenters and welcome all our guests. We will hear briefly from CMU President Dr. Cheryl Pauls and perhaps from the leader of the Iranian delegation. In addition to the welcome, this event will also introduce the theme for the dialogue.
March 7 | 7:00 PM
Marpeck Commons (2299 Grant Ave.)
Registration will take place both before and after dinner on March 7. We expect everyone to register upon arrival. There is no registration fee.
Actual dialogue will begin on March 8 at 8:30 AM. There will be morning and afternoon sessions only.
General topic: Religion and Youth
f you require meals and lodging for this event please contact the CMU Hosting Department directly (Andrew Giesbrecht – email@example.com) to make arrangements. Please indicate that you will be attending Dialogue 7. Invited presenters and sponsored students are exempt from this process.
The day after the dialogue will be devoted to less formal activities like a field trip in and near Winnipeg. The details are still being planned. These activities are intended primarily for our guests from Iran. If others are interested they should state their interests at the time of registration.
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