A Yale student reflects on upcoming Singapore conference
I’ll be honest, I’m not really sure what to expect from the conference tomorrow. Being a practicing Muslim, the notion of faith has always intrigued me, more so after coming to Yale. It might not be a widely held notion across America but the general feeling on Yale campus echoes the phrase “we don’t do God” – possibly even to a more patronizing extreme. The general notion, I get from being on campus, can be summarized in what one of the World Fellows said to me, “come on, your too smart not to drink!” The general message on campus seems to be that Faith and Reason do not go hand in hand. The smarter you get, the less you need to believe in unicorns.
Given that I come from the Middle East, a region of the world where faith and identity usually go hand in hand, the contrast with the Yale environment has been quite intriguing and has led me to a lot of self-exploration. Thus, I’m greatly looking forward to exploring this relationship with people from around the world tomorrow, and notions such as developing “guiding moral values” inspired by religion, but meant to instill tolerance and humility around the world.
I am also currently conducting research for my senior thesis on Education Reform in the Middle East. Given that Singapore is a world leader in education, I am very interested in its ability to promote critical thinking and problem solving skills while maintaining a vibrant religious identity. Given the Middle East’s struggle with this issue, especially in regards to curriculum development, I’m very interested to hear how people from around the world are coping with the demands of globalization while maintaining strong religious faith, or in the words of Tony Blair crystallizing the vision of “Faith and Reason, Faith and Progress as in alliance not contention”.
Nafez Al Dakkak, Faith and Globalisaiton student at Yale University