A Dialogue for Peace
A Dialogue for Peace is a mission-based campaign designed to break through myths and misconceptions and connect and build lasting relationships between the next generation of American and Middle Eastern leaders. A 2010 Clinton Global University Project, ConceptionMedia designed a series of university-to-university satellite conferences between Iraq and the United States. By developing and implementing this groundbreaking multi-layered international media system, the company launched the first direct and live communication dialogues between the American and the Iraqi people.
Designed to reach beyond the partisan sound-bite mentality that has dominated the discourse on Iraq and U.S-Arab relations, the mission of A Dialogue for Peace is to humanize the complex issues of racism, intolerance, violence and war, promote understanding and reconciliation, and inspire an intercultural movement of people from diverse nations working together towards peaceful solutions. The live videoconference and online community forum promote an exchange of ideas between Americans and Iraqis, creating an opportunity for people from all sides to engage in the most essential component in the struggle for peace: the realization and experience of our common and shared humanity.
“My views of Americans have changed. I now see the American people as suffering with us and seeking peace with us. We plead that you repeat these dialogues again and again.”
- Iraqi student participant, IUB
Through ConceptionMedia’s unique access and personal relationship with our Iraqi colleagues, built on a level of personal trust that is virtually unheard of in today’s volatile environment, A Dialogue for Peace will provide the framework and interactive forums for open communication and compassionate dialogue. Students from universities throughout the United States, Iraq, and the Middle East will be able to speak live and directly to one another, allowing both sides the opportunity to ask and answer questions, break down misconceptions, and discuss possible solutions to U.S.-Arab issues. In this way, the project will give a voice to those who are under-represented in today’s discourse and inspire the future leaders of our two nations to build relationships for a peaceful future.
ConceptionMedia will facilitate the live videoconferences and develop a dedicated webpage and social-networking forum where Iraqis and Americans can continue their dialogue, grow their relationships, and invite others to join this emerging intercultural community. The ConceptionMedia team – an international group of human rights and humanitarian aid workers, ex-military personnel, journalists, diplomats, and conflict resolution specialists – will be available for guidance and consultation as the students build relationships and develop their own joint organizations and projects for peace.
Honored as a 2010 Clinton Global Initiative University Project, A Dialogue for Peace premiered May 9, 2010 with an unprecedented live videoconference between students at University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), and Islamic University, Baghdad (IUB). Over 150 American students and 300 Iraqi students participated in the launch of this groundbreaking dialogue, and set a precedent for an honest and courageous conversation described by the Dean of IUB as “an historic and daring attempt for peace.” Student interest and commitment on both sides was extraordinary. IUB was closed that day due to increased violence and a U.S. military operation in the neighborhood; yet the Iraqi students traveled through multiple checkpoints and struggled to meet their curfew for an opportunity to speak with their American counterparts. Due to time constraints, the videoconference could not begin until 11 p.m. California time; yet the American students chose to stay past the planned 90-minute dialogue and were disappointed when the conversation finally came to an end at 2 am.
“Just to see their faces, to laugh together, made an impact on me. We are much more similar than I realized. I now believe peace is definitely possible and communication is the key.”
- American student participant, UCSB
ConceptionMedia surveyed both the Iraqi and American students at our premiere event and received feedback and testimonials that we are currently using to gage interest and increase effectiveness of this type of dialogue. The videoconference was successful beyond our expectations, both technically and in terms of the tone and content of the dialogue itself. Participants at both universities expressed interested in continuing their conversation and the most common feedback from our survey is to continue with project expansion.
As A Dialogue for Peace develops and moves forward, ConceptionMedia will continue to survey the students at each videoconference, evaluating and fine-tuning each production for greater success. We will evaluate the project’s impact on the general public by the interest and coverage in the media and the degree of participation in the online community forum. We will be actively involved and supportive in the development and growth of student relationships, and will follow and document their progress, highlighting success stories on our website.
The final evaluation of success will be the lasting effect on our societies in general, the changes in cultural perceptions, and increase in tolerance, communication, and inter-cultural relations that will extend beyond this project.
“After this dialogue, I am even more interested in building a relationship with Iraqi students. They are my peers, my brothers and sisters in this same world.” -American student participant, UCSB