Last Thursday was the Amazing Faiths Dinner Dialogue. It was a few days ago now, but I’m still thinking about it—about the stories I heard and the people I met. Dinner was wonderful. I ate the best lentil soup of my life, but it wasn’t the food that made Thursday unforgettable. It was the community I saw in Wichita. I was honored to dine with a group of truly genuine people who were interested in learning more about each other.
The forum was organized to give everyone a chance to share. When a guest shared, others were asked to listen without responding. And that gave the evening a really inviting tone. Instead of listening to respond, we were listening to learn. It helped us all engage with one another and connect in a way that other discussion structures don’t encourage. Instead of pointing out differences or interjecting with our opinions, we listened to each other’s experiences and found ourselves focusing on all those things that make us the same.
By the time we reached the free discussion part of the evening, we were actively inquiring about traditions we were unfamiliar with or asking questions about others’ experiences. We didn’t want to talk more about ourselves. We wanted to learn more about everyone else. People were exchanging numbers and emails. People made friends here with people very different from themselves.
I think the thing that made the biggest impression on me was the eagerness everyone had. The eagerness to learn more about each other and the eagerness each person had to make their community a better place. It was all very selfless. I hope the impression sticks with me and encourages me every day to consider people before I make my decisions.
I’m already looking forward to next year’s dinner. This was the first time I’d ever been to an interfaith dinner. It helped me see Wichita in a whole new way.