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Common Dialogue Day Preview

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Every year at Siena Heights, there is a day where professors and other educators come and give lectures on topics they feel are most important. This event is called Common Dialogue Day. This year, it is on Sept. 26.

Many students look at it as a day with no classes and more sleep coming their way while others use this day for extra credit that is assigned by some of their professors for going to the keynote. Chemistry professor and chair of Common Dialogue Day Dr. Julius Nagy, or as some students know him as “Dr. J,” was asked how this year’s event will differ from the past.

“For upperclassmen, it’s going to look similar during the day to things we’ve done in the day where we have a keynote speaker at 9:30 and there will be discussions sessions,” Nagy said. “The big change is after that there will be a Mexican band over at the UC. And we are asking Chartwells to alter the menu for that day to be, I’m not saying only Hispanic, but to be more of a world food kind of thing. I’m not sure what they’re going to come up with yet, but we’re going to ask them to move into something more global. The theme this year is the Common Good. The Common Good doesn’t stop at the Siena campus. It doesn’t stop at the state of Michigan or even the United States. It really is a global thing. We’re using the opportunity to look out at global things and part of that came about because the speaker is an Arabic American. This whole global focus and looking more outward, big picture seems like a logical thing for us to do.”

Nagy gave some details about this year’s keynote speaker as well as what he may have planned to cover during his time on stage.

“His name is Amer Zahr and he is a strange combination of things,” Nagy said. “He’s a lawyer, a comedian and also an adjunct professor of law at the University of Detroit Mercy Law School, so he’s got experience as a lawyer and has actually done a lot of work as a comedian. Part of his comedic act is that he tries to put a funny twist on his view of life as an Arab American. For example, he’s made a documentary and I think the title is ‘I’m Not White’ or something like that. When he fills out forms we all know that the common things on the forms are white, Asian descent or African American and there may be some other options, but there’s never a box that says Arab American. He pokes fun at this whole thing and thinks ‘well, what am I because I’m not white and when white people look at Arab Americans, they see something different than white.’ He’s trying to put a funny spin to get us to think about how we treat people and why that’s important. We’re excited that we found someone who works as a professor because that tells us they know how to relate to students so we’re pretty excited about what he will bring to the table.”

There will be activities at night and also a Mexican band to bring a celebration to end the day right. In the past, there were reflective services and the committee saw that it was not well-attended, so Nagy said they’re trying something new to spark a crowd for this year’s ending to Common Dialogue Day. There will also be volunteer opportunities for students and staff throughout the day.

 

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Common Dialogue Day Preview