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KAICIID Fellows Programme 2021: Virtual Connections, Real Life Impact

21 January 2021

The International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) today launched the 2021 KAICIID Fellows programme with the first online training session for its International and European cohorts. Over the course of 2021, 79 Fellows from 41 countries and seven religions, including Buddhist, Christian, Druze, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Yazidi will be trained in interreligious dialogue and peacebuilding to help tackle division in their local communities.

Welcoming the Fellows to the programme, KAICIID’s Secretary General Faisal Bin Muammar held up examples of how previous cohorts had been working to tackle global challenges at the community and national level. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, KAICIID made available grants and other forms of support to past Fellows, who worked quickly together to address the problems it created. 

“KAICIID’s Fellows have risen to the challenge of the pandemic, mobilising quickly in their communities, providing spiritual and other forms of guidance. We have been unfailingly impressed and humbled by the speed with which our Fellows have implemented interfaith answers to their communities’ needs, whether that is public health awareness, pastoral care, mental health counselling, or combating hate speech and discrimination caused by the pandemic. Many of our Fellows are increasingly recognised as leaders in their field, and their achievements have been celebrated with awards, but our greatest success is in the lifelong connections and ties that they have formed to each other.”

Trainings and activities will take place online due to the ongoing global pandemic, with physical on-site events planned to resume as soon as public health and safety guidelines allow.

Along with the International and European cohorts, an Arab Region cohort, which was suspended last year due to pandemic, will also join this year’s programme.

The sessions will cover topics of global relevance such as COVID-19 awareness, hate speech prevention, conflict resolution, gender equality and peacebuilding. The Fellows will also develop and implement dialogue projects that will be supported by grants provided by the Centre.

“For me as a young interreligious dialogue practitioner, from a small country, it is an honour to be part of the Fellows programme. It is a good opportunity to interact with different religions, nationalities, and generations to promote peace and prosperity in society,” said Saini Gurmann Paul, KAICIID Fellow from Finland.

In addition to interreligious dialogue training, the Fellows will learn how to train their own students in conflict transformation, so that they can be active peace advocates in their respective communities.

“I hope to learn dialogue skills and be trained as a dialogue practitioner and dialogue trainer. I am eager to meet new people from all over the world and excited to spread the knowledge I gained through this training in my community,” said Ustaza Dr. Ghazali Alwani, KAICIID Fellow from Malaysia.

The programme does not end when the Fellows graduate at the end of a year: instead, they become part of the 364 strong Fellows alumni network. Through the network, Fellows can connect with a vibrant community of global changemakers, learn from each other, seek support and guidance from KAICIID experts and access training and funding opportunities to continue their promoting interreligious dialogue.