On the 13th of April 2020, during the rise of the Coronavirus pandemic, when all the public places such as schools and universities were closed for the sake of our own health, Knowledge University (KNU) partook in a weekly dialogue session with Penn State University as a part of the World in Conversation program. The reason as to why the dialogues are held is to achieve the objective of removing the barriers between nations and countries, and eliminating social misconceptions between one group of people and another. Due to the pandemic, the weekly dialogue session could not be held in its usual place, the library in Knowledge University, instead it was held in the Participants’ and the Facilitators’ homes. The topics of discussion in a facilitated dialogue are distributed according to the time of the dialogue, the first thirty minutes of the dialogue are dedicated to knowing who the participants are-where these people come from and what are the sociological factors that affect their lives, and it revolves around the question “How do the people in your community commute and where are they going?”. This question, when asked by the facilitators, can help the participants know more about each other in ways such as how much of a significance a commuter places in a household, also the place which a participant goes to. The second forty five minutes are dedicated to knowing what is going on in the room-what the participants are thinking about regarding a statement proposed by the facilitators and later questioned by them. The statement in that dialogue session was “The United States should be taken off the list of developed countries.”. Such controversial statements naturally provoke the minds of the participants to speak their true opinions and ideas without any societal pressure or obligations.
Participants and Facilitators
In a facilitated dialogue, it is impossible to conduct it without the Participants and the Facilitators. The Participants in this dialogue were
Fadi Raad Afram, a freshman student from the Department of English (DENL)
Maryam Nazar Hassan, a freshman student from the Department of English (DENL)
The Facilitator was
Mohammed Khabat Naif, a junior, now senior, student from the Department of English (DENL)
Both the participants and the facilitator, with the help of Mr. Mohammed Kiani, the head of the Department of English (DENL), and the media and advertisement team, made remarkable feats in the discussions of the dialogue.
In every dialogue session we have had with Penn State University, both the participants and the facilitators work in a harmonious rhythm to present an image and bring out ideas never heard of before, and this session is no different than any other before it. Many viewpoints and ideas were challenged and questioned, even more opinions were examined and poked at, leading us to uncharted territories of collaboration and brand new ideas. It was a great session.
After much discussion and even more questions, the time to conclude the dialogue had arrived, and as with every weekly dialogue session, a concluding question must be asked by the facilitators, the answer to the question must not be examined, for it is a concluding statement, so to speak. The question was “Who would you continue this conversation with and why?” Some participants wanted to continue this conversation with their family and siblings, others wanted to continue it with friends, and so on. In the end, we all shared our answers and we all had to part ways, with the promise of meeting again in another weekly dialogue session.
Report by Mohammed Khabat Naif
About Knowledge University
Knowledge University (KNU) is a private university located in the city of Erbil, Kurdistan Region of Iraq. KNU provides diverse higher education, research and consultancy to all its students via such programs as Engineering, Science, Law, Business, Economy and Teacher Education. KNU is also renowned for maintaining one of the best quality campuses in Iraq with green, sustainable program objectives and outcomes throughout its activities. KNU encourages its academic community to seek knowledge, affirm skills and ensure excellence in their academic and professional achievements. KNU intends to expand its program and become a leading educational institute of science and humanities with e-Smart academic community.
Please visit our campus on your next visit to Erbil, the hub and capital city of Kurdistan Region of Iraq.