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Exploring the Power of Our Stories

Photo by Marilyn Humphries.

by Mitch Bogen
Special to the Tribune 

“We are storied into being,” said Shirley Tang toward the end of the 2022 Ikeda Forum for Intercultural Dialogue. These words, first spoken by Vincent Harding in his dialogue with Daisaku Ikeda, America Will Be!, captured the spirit of the event.

The forum, called “Our Stories Matter: Dialogue As a Way of Knowing, Being and Becoming” was attended by 85 highly engaged participants. It also was live streamed, with 87 people joining from around the world.  It was the Ikeda Center’s first in-person forum since 2019.

Tang is director of the Digital Storytelling and Asian American Studies Lab at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She was joined by Karen Ross, an associate professor specializing in conflict resolution and inclusive peacebuilding at University of Massachusetts Boston.

One guiding touchstone quote came from Mr. Ikeda’s 2016 peace proposal. “The surest way” to heal our divisions, he wrote, “is by carefully attending to the stories of each other’s lives through one-on-one dialogue.”

During a panel discussion session moderated by Center Program Manager Lillian I, Tang and Ross shared their unique perspectives on storytelling and dialogue. 

Ross explained how her dialogue work with Israeli and Palestinian youth revealed that when we hear others’ stories we not only get to know them better but can begin to see ourselves in new ways too. 

 Tang said that purposeful, critical dialogue processes enable the students in her digital storytelling program not only to identify their topics but, more important, to believe that their stories deserve to be told.

After the panel, participants gathered into small groups for person-to-person dialogue. Returning to the whole group, they attested to the ways that “carefully attending” to the stories of others has enriched their lives. 

For a full report on the Ikeda Forum visit

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