"It should be mandatory knowledge"

Every year Danmission takes part in creating "The Interfaith Dialogue Camp" in Libanon. A camp made to promote dialogue an understanding between people of different cultures and religions, and nonetheless, important new friendships.

After the camp finishes the Danish participants share reflections and thoughts. These are Nour Tessie Joergensens reflections after returning from the Interfaith Dialogue Camp 2018. 

By Nour Tessie Joergensen

The dialogue camp invites you to changes. Changes might be terrifying but these changes will help you understand the World surrounding you, and redefining what is within. Being at the camp moves you in unexpected ways and makes you look at things in a different light.

The camp took place in the breathtaking scene of the Lebanese mountains, an atmosphere that brings tranquility to the body and mind. Entering the camp, I expected to gain abilities and tools to face conversations which I normally would find uncomfortable. Through the week I learned that the challenges I wanted to face were not with others but with myself. I learned to accept conversations I found unpleasant, learned to face sides of myself I did not like, and I was confirmed that giving into the stories of others teach us beautiful lessons.

With the exercises we learned to be mindful of being in the moment and being invested in the conversation. Everybody has an amazing side to themselves, and they can teach us beautiful things we did not know, just by being in the moment with them. We learned to fully respect others and their stories by letting them define their own truth. Meeting people where they define themselves, not where we want or except them to be, based on our prejudices. We learned that we can adapt different views without losing ourselves, on the contrary, welcoming others’ stories to our own lives help us expand our true selves.

Deep relations and friendships were created through exercises and breaks. They were established over dinner, and at the rooms. They were created through walks, through laughs, tears, games, at the bonfire, posing for selfies, or heart touching stories shared under starry nights. The camp created a place where we could break stereotypes, and become friends with people we never thought we would share similarities with. Friendships grew not only because of newly found similarities, but also because and despite differences. Learning that we are all the same, striving for what we believe in, to find some sense, clarity, happiness and love. I made a lot of friends, that I am glad I am still able to keep in touch with. These friendships invite me to new cultures, new worlds, and push my boundaries. Friendships, which have opened the possibility and desire to visit new parts of the World. Three friendships stand out amongst these. A woman from Syria, who had struggled with the same questions that I had. As we met on mutual ground, we both found clarity and answers in each other, even though we are from different backgrounds. A man from Iraq, who had witnessed the horror of terror and still taught me deep and inspiring lessons on forgiveness and peace. Then lastly, a man from The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who taught me that we can not judge a book by it’s cover. We performed an exercise together, and I learned that all my prejudice and concerns were not true. On the contrary, that friendship changed the way I look at the World and myself. Understanding myself through others and their stories have helped to become a better person.

The knowledge was not only shared and taught but experienced. It should be mandatory knowledge for all humans alive and all generations to come. It should be a part of everyone’s learning skills, and should be as common as our studies of sciences. Being able to see the World through dialogue-glasses would create productive, beautiful, strong and peaceful environments for all humans. 

International Dialogue and Education Camp (IDEC) gathers young people with different religions and nationalities every year in Libanon. The purpose with the camp is to educate dialogue ambassadors, peace makers and change agents, that can go back afterwards and establish dialogue- and development work in their home countries. This year IDEC was held between June 30th – July 7th, where 25 people between the ages of 22-32 participated in dialogue and conflict management courses, worked together with practical assignments whilst meeting young people from other cultures with other religions.

The purpose of the camp is to make new friendships and an understanding across different ethnicities, religions and languages. We hope that the camp can take part in opening your eyes and be a step on the road to make peace and reconciliation in the world!