Reflections on MA in Dialogue Studies

My ten weeks work replacement at the Dialogue Society London branch is now over; the placement covered late January- early April 2015. At the end, I am quite confident to say my work replacement experience was quite productive in view of my educational background. It was in late January that I had started my work replacement very enthusiastically, with great ambitions and with solid plans. Now in early April I am pleased to state that what I have gained during my work replacement are the things that I had expected to gain at the beginning. What makes me strongly believe and state that I had a fruitful time at the Dialogue Society during the ten weeks period are the substantial activities I have engaged in during which I gained extensive knowledge, skills and experience on Dialogue Studies.

To start with, it was the Dialogue School organized by Dialogue Society that provided us with extensive opportunities to learn more about the theoretical approaches to the concept of dialogue. The Dialogue School was the weekly course given by research fellows and experts on the dialogue studies where I gained comprehensive knowledge about the ideas and opinions of dialogue scholars who have contributed greatly to the development of dialogue studies. It was during this School that I grasped the true understanding of theoretical foundations and epistemological approaches to the study of dialogue through hand-on trainings, workshops and different discussions.

As part of the Dialogue School, the practical trainings were a marvellous way of understanding the true nature of dialogue among people. What I especially appreciated during the Dialogue School was a course on different types of dialogue during which I learned that dialogue can indeed also occur inside a person as well as occurring between two or more people. It was really eye-opening for me to learn that dialogue first comes in the form of speaking with yourself during which time you discover your true soul, your wants, dreams and finally the life that you want to construct. Furthermore, the Dialogue School was also productive in a way that it brought different members of the community and faith groups to the Dialogue Society who presented their organisations and the work that they are doing. It was during those presentations that I gained an extensive knowledge of the community centres and faith groups in London. In short, I can say that I learned a great deal from the Dialogue School during my work replacement.

Apart from the Dialogue School, I remember the comprehensive sessions on particular issues such as public speaking, networking and time management, during which I gained substantial skills and competences. Essentially, the session on the improvement of networking skills was really helpful since I gained necessary communication skills that are highly important for professional work experience. Furthermore, the session on how to communicate effectively with people was very helpful for the understanding of the main features of effective communication with people from all walks of life.

Furthermore, weekly London trips were a colourful part of the work replacement. The trips provided us with an opportunity to learn more about the cultural and religious history of London. Particularly, the visits to the historical churches, mosques, synagogues and other religious, historical and cultural places made the work replacement very enjoyable and colourful. One of the trips that I was really fascinated by was a trip to Wesley’s Chapel that was built in 1778 by John Wesley, who is considered as the founder of Methodism. Titled as the “Mother Church of World Methodism”, the Chapel is a marvellous historical place and fascinating area to see and understand how Methodism emerged and spread across England, how John Wesley lived and simply dedicated his life to teaching and educating people throughout England by visiting different places on horseback.

Last but not least, there was also the “Friendship Dinner” that we as the master’s students of Dialogue Society organised at Eagle Community Centre on 26th March 2015, one of three community centres of the Lighthouse Educational Society operating in South London. The Friendship Dinner was an essential part of our work replacement in which I had a great chance to meet different members of the local community. The idea of the event was to bring people from all sectors of the local community together for a friendly meal and for discussion of issues of local importance. The event promoted interaction and friendship between all different groups within the local community. It also promoted discussion of important social issues, encouraging people to reflect on these together, have their say, listen to others, and begin to think about constructive solutions to shared difficulties. Overall, the Friendship Dinner brought local people from all walks of life, including local policy makers, health care professionals, and police representatives for a dinner at Lighthouse Educational Society. Around 50 people from the local area representing different community centres, faith groups, stakeholders participated at the event.

To sum up, my work replacement at the Dialogue Society was a brilliant experience that gave me a chance to meet different people, gain extensive knowledge on theoretical approaches to the study of dialogue, learn more about the history of London and acquire crucial skills such as networking, communication, and public speaking.

Namig Abbasov

Namig Abbasov

Research Fellow, Centre for Security and Energy Studies of Qafqaz University

Namig Abbasov is a research fellow at the Centre for Security and Energy Studies of Qafqaz University, and a research assistant at the Department of International Relations, Qafqaz University where he lectures on Principles of the Formation and Evolution of International Relations and History of International Relations.

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