Before the Boston Interfaith Leadership Initiative (BILI), I thought I had a good grasp as to how to facilitate interfaith dialogue and collaboration. This was mainly due to my role as an Interfaith Associate for Northeastern’s Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service (CSDS), helping plan interfaith dialogues and service events. While my role at CSDS is spiritually rewarding in the context of interfaith programming, BILI has given me a new lens on interfaith event planning, as well as techniques and methods to improve upon my interfaith leadership within and outside of CSDS.
One dialoguing technique used in BILI that I am looking forward to taking with me and implementing in my campus interfaith work is Reflective Structured Dialogue. In Reflective Structured Dialogue (RSD), participants are presented with a personal contemplative question, and every person answers in a structured manner, each allotted a certain amount of time to ponder and respond. After everyone provides a response, there is a similarly ordered question and answer time to continue to facilitate the conversation. Due to the structured nature of the dialogue, every participant is able to share their thoughts equally and engage in the discussion. I was able to experience RSD both as a participant alongside other BILI fellows and as a facilitator on the BILI Retreat. I really enjoyed these experiences, as did the other participants as reported as part of the post-retreat survey. After BILI, I aim to bring RSD to the Interfaith Dialogues at CSDS in order to facilitate even deeper conversation and encourage those who may not speak up during the dialogues to express their thoughts as desired.