Resilience: Our student interns launch the CAWU Ambassador for Dialogue program

Sent On: 
Thu, 2020-04-09
Newsletter Number: 

I returned to the Netherlands since my family is in the Netherlands and my work with our staff and student interns has become fully electronic.


I need to compliment French intern Clément Ethore for taking the lead in developing a CAWU (Center for Arab-West Understanding) Ambassador for Dialogue program. This program is a message of hope in times of great insecurity because of the coronavirus crisis. It is also a message of enlightenment and showing students taking responsibility to take this message of hope further. We may no longer be able to meet physically but we can be active online.

CAWU interns Clement, Mirna and Stefany working together on the Ambassador for Dialogue program 


Anyone can participate if he/she is fully committed to the ideals of CAWU: working towards mutual understanding between peoples of different cultures, convictions and nationalities. This means fighting stereotypes and negative sentiments wherever they pop up and making an effort to understand the context of events whenever they take place. Understanding does not mean you have to give up your own convictions but showing respect for people with different convictions. Already around 20 students have signed up for this program. They offer hope for a better future.


The CAWU Ambassador for Dialogue program means a commitment of students to promote articles and reports of Arab-West Report in social media. We are also working on a network of similar minded organizations and it means also promoting their dialogue activities through social media and encourage people to respond to various texts and activities. If Ambassadors for Dialogue become aware of a positive example of dialogue they can report this to the Center for Arab-West Understanding which in turn can recommend this for highlighting in social media.


The problem with much media reporting is that much of the news is negative news. It is true extremists have made a number of dramatic attacks on Christians in past years but there is so much cooperation between Muslims and Christians in daily life that deserves much more attention than what is given now.


The CAWU Ambassadors for Dialogue will also encourage people to sign up for our newsletters, either the newsletter that comes out around 50 times per year or our quarterly with quarterly overviews. Signing up for our newsletter is a form of support. It is good to show our partner organizations that the number of subscribers is increasing.


In 2008 we worked with different partner organizations on the Electronic Network for Arab-West Understanding (ENAWU). We called this phase I. Since 2008 we have further developed our Arab-West Report database and included data from organizations we cooperated with or, in the case of the Centre D’Études et de Documentation Économiques, Jurisdiques en sociales, CEDEJ, we supported several of their PhD students such as Sebastian Elsässer who did his PhD about the relations between Muslims and Christians in Egypt and is now teaching at the Christian-Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany, or in the case of the Anglican Diocese and Comboni Fathers we have throughout the years carried out projects with them. The student internship program has in this period strongly expanded. Several universities have asked us to supervise their students but the formal network can and should be strengthened. Since our funding since 2008 remained limited we could not hire a dedicated person for this. This time, however, the Ambassadors for Dialogue can make that difference. That is why we are applying for funding for phase II with the Anna Lindh Foundation.


In this stage we are calling organizations to join us in phase II of this network. Please write us if you know of like-minded organizations or share this newsletter with like-minded organizations. We wrote a call for partnerships and I will be pleased to send this to anyone who would like to consider such a partnership. I am well aware that such a call for partnerships during the current coronavirus crisis is awkward, but we are tied to the call for proposals to the Anna Lindh Foundation. Their deadline is May 28 which means that the partnership agreements need to be with us before May 15 so that we can include this in the final proposal to the Anna Lindh Foundation. Networking can be done in many formats, we are very flexible but the choice for the format is for the organization that wants to partner with us.


In particular the Ambassadors for Dialogue from Europe and the Arab World will play a role in the development of our network. Please contact us if you are interested.


Last but not least Western Christians are in the Holy Week, the week before Easter. Our Coptic Orthodox friends celebrate Easter one week later. It is of course unprecedented that believers cannot go to church and worship at home, often with the support of the livestreaming of a church service in which only the pastor or priest celebrate with an organist and one or two others attending. We wish all our Christian friends a blessed Holy Week and Easter.


The Hague, April 9, 2020


Cornelis Hulsman,

Editor-in-chief Arab-West Report