Student Association for Interfaith Dialog (SAID) at Wichita State University hosted the 2014 Annual Dialogue and Friendship Dinner, sponsored by the Kansas Branch of the Dialogue Institute of the Southwest. The event took place on Thursday, April 10 at Marcus Welcome Center, Wichita, Kansas. The dinner started with a live instrumental music performed by Selim Giray, pianist, and Virginia Brungardt, violinist. Following the meal, Mr. Aydin Cayir, a renowned Turkish calligrapher, demonstrated various forms of calligraphy, one of the finest forms of traditional Turkish art. Later, all of the guests had a chance to get their names written in calligraphy, which was a pleasant surprise.
Dr. Martha Ann Kirk presented a keynote titled “Where in the world is compassion?”According to Dr. Kirk, compassion can be transformative in our personal lives, our communities, and globally. With ideas from the Charter for Compassion, a movement to promote the Golden Rule, and stories and pictures from her research in Iraq, Dr. Kirk gave examples of kindness, generosity, forgiveness, reconciliation, courage, and bridge building. Dr. Kirk, who has spent parts of the summers of 2010, 2011, and 2012 in Iraq gathering information on how the schools and the hospital were contributing to stability, reconciliation, and a better future, mentioned that the Turkish schools were begun in Northern Iraq to give youth hope and opportunity after over 150,000 people had been massacred in the 1980’s. Now the schools have spread to many parts of Iraq, and these stories of compassion invite ours. The event was very well received by the attendants, which included the mayor of Wichita, city council members, various judicial, religious, academic, and civic leaders, and the general public. At the end of an evening full of constructive dialogue, inspiring discussions, and fellowship, three distinguished individuals have been recognized for their outstanding contributions to the society:Leadership Award of the Dialogue and Friendship Dinner in Wichita went to James Fleetwood, Chief Judge at State of Kansas; while Ted D. Ayres, Vice President and General Counsel, Wichita State University received the Education Award, and Janet Miller, Member of Wichita City Council was rewarded with the Public Service Award.