Journeys to Understanding
Journeys to Understanding is a non-profit organization dedicated to opening windows of understanding between peoples of the world, focusing primarily on the United States and the Arab world. Through immersion journeys, training, and educational media productions, and real-time social networking tools, Journeys to Understanding seeks to utilize the best models of citizen diplomacy, education, technology, and travel to create a climate of understanding and cooperation between people, cultures, religions, and nations.
Co-Founders: Sahar Taman & Vince Isner
Sahar Taman is a consultant in cultural communications and transformative conflict experience. She works with American and international constituencies as well as the U.S. foreign policy community to nurture relationships between the US and Muslim majority countries. Most recently she was the Project Director for the Religion and Society Dialogue Program at the National Peace Foundation (NPF). She developed the program to foster a dialogue between Muslim religious leaders from the Arabic-speaking Middle East and American religious communities of all faiths as citizen exchanges in experiential workshops focused on the study of the many “places of religion” in both American and Middle Eastern societies. She led study tours in the U.S. and the Arab world with over 70 American and international delegates; scholars, religious practitioners, activists, journalists and others all. Sahar developed a network of hundreds of hosts, guests, speakers, and facilitators and volunteers during these travel trips in multiple settings from churches, synagogues, mosques, forums, debates, social experiences, government meetings, and workshops both in the US and abroad. She is the editor of Reflections and Experiences of Religion and Society; 2010, a compendium of essays from 36 authors who participated in the Religion and Society Program.
She is an Egyptian American Muslim born in Cairo and has lived in the United States since she was a child. She has previously worked at the Office of Management and Budget in the Executive Office of the President of the United States. She is on the Charitable Giving Committee which manages the Trust of the Islamic Society of Northern Wisconsin. Ms Taman received her Masters in Public Policy from the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy and obtained a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. She has studied Arabic at the University of Chicago and American University in Cairo.
Through his writing, photographs, and film productions, Vince Isner has helped to advance cultural communication, interfaith understanding, and worked to address key social concerns. Through his company, VIPMedia (www.vinceisner.com), Vince has shot in dozens of locales around the globe, including the tsunami-ravaged regions of Sri Lanka and Indonesia, academic centers throughout Western Europe, and conflict-torn regions in the Middle East. Equally at home in the photographer’s studio, Vince has photographed everyone from civil rights leaders and Congressmen to the President of the United States.
With degrees and background in theology, media production, and the fine arts, Vince began his career studying children’s television with PBS’s Fred Rogers (of Mister Rogers Neighborhood) and has since gone on to produce dozens of films for publishers, colleges and graduate schools, leading theological institutions, and the Parliament of World Religions. His most recent gallery exhibition of photographs features images of devotion in historic Christian and Muslim settings, including Cairo, Egypt and Assisi, Italy.
Vince was founding director of FaithfulAmerica, a national progressive interfaith advocacy movement based in Washington DC. Additionally, he has served as a Minister to Families, written Telly Award-winning scripts for the nationwide “Friends of the Family” campaign, produced for members of Congress, and served as a communication officer for the General Board of Church and Society on Capitol Hill.
Vince first worked with Sahar Taman as a member of the Citizen Diplomacy delegation to Egypt and Qatar in 2008, and later as contributor to the book Reflections and Experiences of Religion and Society, providing several images, including the cover photographs. A new book of Vince’s photographs is curently in production.