CHANGE and CONNECTION -- two words
of great importance for our times.
On CHANGE, Albert Einstein tells us: "We cannot solve today's problems with the same kind of thinking that produced them."
About CONNECTION, our lives validate that nothing replaces face-to-face compassionate listening and dialogue. We finally see each other as human and equal, and begin to want the best for one another.
From here, let us finally begin to correct the "big disconnect." Then successfully collaborate together for the good of all.
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1. New York -- Cairo, Egypt
2. Chicago -- Birzeit, Palestine
3. California -- Tennessee, USA
1. New York, NY -- Cairo, Egypt
After September 11, 2001, feelings of devastation moved one couple to creative action.
Professor Bella Mirabella (Bella.Mirabella@nyu.edu) teaches at the Gallatin School of New York University. Her husband, Professor Lennard Davis (LenDavis@uic.edu), is Chair of English, University of Illinois, Chicago.
"Let's get students talking together on a small scale," they decided. "Everything starts small, and universities should be models."
Bella found Arab Professor Abdelazziz Ezelarab (Ezelarab@aucegypt.edu) at American University, Cairo. They cooperated, and "A Dialogue Linking Peers" bridged Jewish, Muslim, and Christians between New York and Cairo in a live video-conversation on November 13, 2001.
The announcement is at: http://www.nyu.edu/gallatin/e_events_nov.html
The NYU participants are seen at: http://www.nyu.edu/classes/duncombe/auc-nyu/
Their AUC counterparts are described at: http://www.aucegypt.edu/auc-nyu/
To sustain the student and faculty relationships, a Web site and a listserv were promptly established. As a result, Arab and Jewish students began working together on a writing project.
A written review about this videoconference is on the AUC Web site at:
Sarah Davidson (UrbanMermaid@hotmail.com and YearAbroad@hotmail.com), a Jewish NYU student studying for a year in Cairo, said of her experience on the Egypt end: "This event was fabulous and I hope it will happen again in the near future. In this instance, dialogue brought together people who not only had different life experiences and family histories, but lived in different cultures with different values, expectations, and reactions to world events. Dialogue proved to be very powerful."
For more information, contact Christopher James at 212-998-6876 or Christopher.James@nyu.edu.
2. Chicago, IL -- Birzeit, Palestine
On November 28, 2001, Professor Davis partnered with Dalia Habash (firstname.lastname@example.org), at Birzeit University, West Bank, to create their first, successful audioconference, STUDENTS TALKING TO STUDENTS.
The announcement is on the Web at:
"We have much to learn from the Palestinian students, and they have much to learn from us," said Davis "We expect both sides to change preconceptions and come away with better understanding. Ultimately, that is what the university experience is about.
Raed El-Sharif, an MBA student participant at Birzeit University, said the session "was a valuable experience to know more about how American people think of us and the level of their knowledge about our situation. It was a good opportunity to correct part of their information about our suffering by giving them suitable facts and figures about the political, economical, and social situation here in Palestine."
The Birzeit University report of the conference is on the Web at:
More conferences are planned. Additional information is available from Anne Dybek at UIC, by phone at (312) 996-8279 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Then, for two hours on Monday afternoon, January 14, 2002, participants in the 9-year-old Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue used an inexpensive home Web camera to video conference in depth with the new Middle East Dialogue meeting at the University School of Nashville, Tennessee. The Nashville coordinator was Caroline Blackwell White, Director, Multicultural Affairs, at CBW@usn.org. The technical coordinator there was Scott Merrick, SMerrick@usn.org. The California group gathered in the home of Libby and Len Traubman (LTraubman@igc.org). NetMeeting software was used, with telephone audio using speakerphones at both ends. Below are responses from a few of the teleconference participants.
Steven Robins (SRobins@usn.org), dialogue participant, Head of the High School, University School of Nashville
"I am so glad that we in Nashville have been able to expand our dialogue to include you and yours. I need to focus on the positive results of individuals learning more about other individuals, on the human side of the cultural and social divides in America and in the world."
Carolyn Blackwell White (CBW@usn.org), dialogue convenor, Director of Mulitcultural Affairs, USN
"I'm still trying to find the words to adequately convey my experience of Monday afternoon...I can only say that, in true dialogue style, I am changed...and hopeful that Monday was the start of something big!"
Scott Merrick (SMerrick@usn.org), Technology Coordinator, USN
"Thank you so much for being there, and for being so enthusiastic about utilizing videoteleconferencing (VTC) to facilitate the very special dialogue that took place January 14 in our computer lab and in your living room. As the school's VTC advocate and facilitator, I am pursuing every use of our new equipment that I can identify, as long as it serves the purpose of education...I was struck by the depth of the thinking and the sincerity of each participant...I am, by the way, working on a brief CD-ROM film summary of the event, probably only 6 or 7 minutes in length."