Saturday, October 20, 2007

Invitation to Dialogue by Michael Loban

Seven years ago when my parents and I came to U.S., I could barely pronounce Xavier correctly, yet alone think that I will have an opportunity to travel to Rome and be in the same room with the Pope Benedict XVI. On the other hand, I doubt that Joseph Alois Ratzinger thought that he will be the Pope and will be in the same room with me.
This opportunity is extraordinary but with such opportunity comes the responsibility. I am not talking about the responsibility to prepare for the trip; I am talking about my responsibility after it. What will I learn, and how will I share this with Xavier Community? This is a Lay Conference that tries to bridge the gap of understanding between two communities, but the question is how do we have this dialogue more than once a year, how do we have this dialogue every month, every week, every day? How do we engage others to join in dialogue to achieve the future distinctly better from the past? The opportunity to travel to Rome will last 4 days, the opportunity to use what I will learn can last a lifetime.
“So if I asked you about art, you'd probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life's work, political aspirations, him and the Pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I'll bet you can't tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You've never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that.” This is a lengthy quote from a terrific movie most of you probably have seen -Good Will Hunting. I always think of this quote when I travel somewhere. Obviously, I have read a lot about Michelangelo and his works, about the beauty of Vatican and the Sistine Chapel, but now I will have a chance to experience these things differently, on a level that can’t be described in a blog or on a picture. It is something that stays in your heart for life.
I know I will not be able to describe everything that will take place during this trip. This blog is not about sightseeing and not about the beauty of the Sistine Chapel, I know it is magnificent. This blog is about dialogue and how it takes place. But why wait for when I come back. Let’s start now. I urge you to respond; I will read all the comments and do my best at sharing this experience. I subscribe to a lot of blogs and couple of my articles have been published here and there. The blogs that I like, often do not have just one person writing about his/her view of the world. On the contrary the author only sparks the interest and then community builds a fascinating conversation about the topic. I know that there are students from different religious backgrounds represented on Xavier’s campus. And I encourage and challenge each and every one of you to join me in this conversation; at the end this is called Xavier Universe.
My e-mail is, I will make sure your questions are heard.


Tim Heitmann said...

Congrats on getting selected to go on this trip. I know that you will be very busy but hopefully you will be able to enjoy the city of Rome. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity so enjoy it to the fillest. I hope you enjoy your time in Rome and don't forget... to represent the "X."

Tim Heitmann

P.S. Maybe you could give some sort of presentation of what you went through or something like that when you return?

Michael said...

Hey Tim,
I did my best trying to represent Xavier. It was a great trip and hopefully I will get a chance to go back to Rome as it is a magnificent city.

I like the idea to have a panel discussion about the trip and about interreligious dialogue on campus. I am not sure on what would be the best way to arrange it, what are your suggestions?

andrew said...

I truly admire what you are trying to do. In this shrinking world, it is more important then ever to understand varying cultures from one's own and I think you are a prime example of this. Comming from a foreign country (or so i assume from the introduction) and integrating yourself so well that you are representing us shows the diversity of religion and its aspects. Thank you for you efforts and good luck.

Kristin Strehle said...

Reading about this experience is fascinating, and it is awesome that you were able to be a part of this. In this post, I loved how you talked about the real challenge-the responsibility that comes with the blessing of being a part of this dialogue. Your struggle in figuring out a way to encorporate what you learned on this trip into everyday life is something that struck me. I have been in similar situations coming back from different retreats and mission trips, and it is pretty difficult to do sometimes. Thank you for sharing this experience with everyone at Xavier and good luck in your future!

Blazine said...

Hi Michael!

I really enjoyed reading this blog, because you really brought up a good point. So many times we see, hear and experience things...but what good is it if we can't discuss and share what we have learned. I also agree that dialogue is extremely important. Often times the best way to learn something is through dialogue. It is wonderful that you have the opportunity to be completely thrown into another culture, because I think that younger generations are losing sight of the beauty that every culture has. As for bridging the gap between two societies, I think that by discussing what you have seen with the faculty and students of Xavier will accompish part of this task. You suggested the idea of a discussion panel...and I think that would be a nice idea. Perhaps you could show pictures of your experience and present anything you collected on your journey.

Blazine Howard

Michael said...

Again, thank you for all the comments. I hope that this dialogue can continue in the future. I encourage everyone to send me a brief e-mail at to continue the discussion. Below are my individual responses to the comments that were made.


You are right in your assumption. I was born in Ukraine and lived there for 14 years. Then my parents decided to immigrate to the U.S. Obviously, I had to adjust a lot and the most complicated part was getting new friends. When you do not speak the language the adaptation goes much slower. On the other hand, U.S also had to adopt, not to me individually but to everyone who came to this country over the years. This country becomes a mosaic that represents people from over the world, this mosaic constantly changes as people immigrate here. It is a common job to build the bridge between all the cultures that are represented in this country.


Thank you for sharing. I am sure you understand exactly what I am going through and the struggle to understand what to do next. What did you do when you came back from the trips you took? What would you do now to reflect on what you have learned and did in those trips?


I would be happy to participate in a discussion panel and show some pictures that we took. But often, I encounter that people do not get involved in panel discussions. If the group is not given an opportunity to speak up and open up, discussion has a very good chance to turn into a boring lecture. I would like to get more students and faculty involved in a Dialogue on Dialogue. This way people get a chance to share, to ask questions and talk about opportunities and possibilities. Would you be interested in helping to organize something of this nature?