From May 27-29, 2016 the Scholas Occurrentes
(trans. "schools' meeting"), a Pontifical Foundation, held its 6th World Congress at the Vatican under the title “University and School: wall or bridge.” The Foundation describes its mission by being dedicated to “Change Education [by] building together an integrated and peaceful world, making the culture of the meeting an educational experience.” [http://scholasoccurrentes.org/
Dr. Zeki Saritoprak Dr. Zeki Saritoprak
, director of the Nursi Chair in Islamic Studies in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies also participated at this prestigious congress. In Dr. Saritoprak's words, "this gathering of roughly 400 individuals of diverse religious backgrounds from across the world has increased my hopefulness for the future. To achieve peace we need dialogue and to achieve dialogue, seeds of peace and harmony must be planted." Dr. Saritoprak also viewed this congress as an important endeavor to building an ecumenical community with an emphasis on peace-making within the educational systems: "At this meeting, numerous individuals talked about ways in which bridges can be built across cultures and religions that will contribute to world peace. The emphasis was on education and there was a desire to make schools joyful places for learning. As former Italian Minister of Education, Luigi Berlinguer, said at the meeting, 'Beauty is just life. Let’s help people to reveal their beauty inside.'” Speakers from Israel, the U.S., and countries in Europe and Latin America all offered important insights on the relationship between education and service. At the closing ceremony, some of the exceptional students from Israel, United Arab Emirates, Mexico, and the U.S.A., who had worked with the Foundation received symbols of peace. Looking back at this unique experience, Dr. Saritoprak concluded: "I was honored to be invited to be a participant in the event and it was a great privilege and a gift from God that I was able to give one of the closing prayers at the event and had a chance to personally greet His Excellency Pope Francis. To me, this was another seed of hope."
Pope Francis and Dr. Saritoprak shake hands at the end of the 6th World Congress in Vatican City.