Kyle Kooyers, associate director of the Kaufman Interfaith Institute,
said when organizers initially began planning the series, Kaur's name
was brought up because of her work to bridge divides.
"As a frequent media presence, author and filmmaker, Valarie
draws upon her background, beliefs and lived experiences to draw
people towards one another," Kooyers said. "Even in our
disagreements or frustrations with 'the other,' we want people to feel
Valarie's invitation to revolutionary love, seeing those across the
table or across the aisle as a part of ourselves, no longer as strangers."
Kaur's book, "See No Stranger: A Memoir & Manifesto of
Revolutionary Love," recounts her own experiences with hatred and
intolerance as a Sikh growing up in California. A friend of Kaur's
family, whom she called uncle, was murdered after 9/11. In the book,
she reclaims love as an active, public and revolutionary force that
creates new possibilities.
There are two remaining Talking Together events. Lisa Perhamus,
director of the Padnos/Sarosik Center for Civil Discourse and
associate professor of educational foundations, said the momentum to
strengthen community through conversation is building from past events.
"I am both energized by the tremendous level of engagement and
participation that we have seen at our monthly events and reminded of
how much work there is yet to be done in creating a culture of
conversation," Perhamus said. "The evening with Valarie Kaur
offers our campus and local communities an opportunity to collectively
reflect upon an often overlooked element of conversation: the role of love."