Engagement, debate and building relationships

Photos illustrate student learning tour to historically, culturally and theologically rich Iran

September 10, 2014 | Young Voices
Cecilly Hildebrand | Special to Young Voices
Construction of the Imam Mosque began in 1611. (Photos by Cecilly Hildebrand)

This past May, I was part of a group of 10 students from Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg and Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., that travelled to Iran to observe the sixth Shi’i Islam-Mennonite Christian dialogue.

This ongoing interfaith dialogue between Mennonite and Muslim scholars provides a safe place for academics and theologians to speak about their respective beliefs and build relationships with each other.

We spent 10 days in the city of Qom, a holy site for Shi’i Muslims and a significant centre for Shi’i study and scholarship, attending the dialogue as well as an academic conference and an introductory course on Islam. The remaining 10 days were spent in the cities of Isfahan, Shiraz and Tehran, travelling to significant sites to learn more about Iran’s history, people, beliefs and culture.

The ruins of Persepolis, literally translated as “City of Persians,” is located northeast of the city of Shiraz and dates back to 515 B.C. The site of Persepolis is believed to have been chosen by Cyrus the Great, built by Darius I, completed by his son King Xerxes the Great, and later destroyed by Alexander the Great. With one of the world’s oldest civilizations, to learn about Iran and its people is to become immersed in history.


Cecilly Hildebrand, 26, graduated from CMU in 2012 with a degree in psychology. She lives in Winnipeg, where she works part-time as a photographer along with her husband, Matthew Dueck.

Construction of the Imam Mosque began in 1611. (Photos by Cecilly Hildebrand)

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