Better Understanding for a Better World: Promoting Tolerance through Dialogue and Partnership

More than 100 young leaders from 16 countries and 17 ethnicities will come together in Bishkek July 13-17 for Better Understanding for a Better World (BUBW), a conference on leadership, interfaith, and intercultural tolerance.  The participants will work together to find ways to encourage constructive dialogue, conflict resolution, and peacebuilding in their communities and around the world.

The conference is fully funded by the United States and implemented by the U.S.-based NGO Civilizations Exchange and Cooperation Foundation (CECF) in close partnership with the Kyrgyz State Commission on Religious Affairs.

The scheduled events include visits to places of worship of various traditions in an effort to promote understanding of diversity and tolerance, and an interfaith panel with leaders of diverse religious faiths.  The slate of conference speakers includes representatives from local NGOs, U.S. Ambassador Sheila Gwaltney, Director of the State Commission on Religious Affairs Orozbek Moldaliev, and Syrian-American Imam Mohamad Bashar Arafat.

Imam Mohamad Bashar Arafat is the Founder and President of CECF, which functions as an umbrella to bring people together in a format where exchanges can take place more effectively to create a better world that enjoins peace and cooperation.

Currently, CECF provides religious and cultural training, consultation, and orientation services for international exchange students sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.  Since 2006, CECF has aimed to transcend the boundaries of fear of the “other” through collaborative interactions and multicultural dialogue with students from various faith traditions and cultures around the world.  In partnership with the U.S. Department of State, Imam Arafat leads three BUBW conferences in the United States every year.  Youth from 68 countries have participated in these five-day conferences, which help to break down barriers ignorance and encourage participants to embrace their common humanity.