Everyone who attended the Dialogue Institute Austin’s dinner, March 1st,, at the Asian American Cultural Center in Austin experienced a great evening of fellowship. Over two hundred people representing many different cultures, backgrounds, and religions gathered in support of dialogue, solidarity, tolerance, peace, and love.
Dr. Steven Kinney, the evening’s master of ceremonies, opened the program and introduced Dr. Güner Arslan, a founder of DIA. He shared the mission and programs of Dialogue Institute Austin, as well as information about the Hizmet Movement. Hizmet, the Turkish word for service, inspires everything the Dialogue Institute Austin undertakes.
The rest of the program began after a Mediterranean dinner during which the world music group Atash played a live concert. Then a video of the heart-breaking story of a family that drowned in the Aegean while fleeing from the Erdoğan regime in Turkey illustrated the terrible risks people in Turkey are being forced to take and the consequences for many of attempting to leave.
Laila Muhammad, Executive Director of the Compassion Action Foundation, delivered the keynote address stressing the value of diversity and the acceptance of people from different backgrounds just as they are. She also shared stories about her family.
Catholic Charities of Central Texas received the 2018 Gülen Peace Award for its humanitarian service and its contributions to promoting dialogue and understanding. Justin Estep accepted the award on behalf of Catholic Charities.
The Annual Dialogue and Friendship Dinner is the only fundraising event Dialogue Institute Austin holds each year. DIA is grateful to everyone who made the evening a success—the speakers, volunteers, the generous sponsors, the Host Committee, the DIA Advisory Board, and especially all the attendees. We hope to see all of you again at next year’s dinner.