On February 18, the Niagara Foundation had the pleasure of hosting Sallie Latkovich to discuss the benefits of religious studies abroad. Latkovich, C.S.J., Director of the Bible Study and Travel Program at Catholic Theological Union (CTU), lead an informative Friends in Faith event to discuss how CTU encourages students to experience and study theology through the lens of other cultures.
Sallie began her speech by pointing out the importance of travel. Traveling to various countries provides people with real experiences of meeting an understanding of others. She believes traveling is not only about visiting buildings and knowing its history. Sallie said, “Traveling, it’s about meeting the people and the people who have inherited such rich heritage from their ancestors.” At CTU, they have a program called Abraham’s Children that is both a course and a travel program. It is open to participants from any faith or philosophical background. This program is designed to introduce some of the basic elements of the Jewish, Christianity and Muslim from the perspective of history and theology and through interreligious relations. The trips include a visit to sites that are important to each faith. Sallie emphasized how during this intercultural exchange they have discovered many similarities between each religion.
Sallie shared one of her experiences when she was in Jerusalem during the fall. When they were staying in a neighborhood in the east of Jerusalem, their neighbor was quick to introduce himself and invite them to his house for tea. Sallie described this experience as a way to welcoming them into the neighborhood and that his hospitality made her feel safe. She was able to understand what is important for the people of Jerusalem and see similarities among each other no matter the religion or beliefs. This kind of experience makes people see the other side of the spectrum and develop their own perspective on the Middle East without the media influencing their beliefs. Sallie said she loves “the sight of the little children taking care of each other, brother and sister walking hand in hand, which is often not mentioned in the media. Another fact that Sallie mentioned was the importance of tourism in the Middle East. Many people are afraid of traveling to this part of the world because of the things they hear and read in the media. People in the Middle East realize how important tourists are for their economy, so they are careful to treat travelers with respect.
The CTU annual Fall Program is a time of study and exploration of biblical and historical sites all through Greece, Turkey, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, and Egypt. The Biblical Study and Travel Programs offer you the opportunity to travel the lands of the Bible in academically oriented programs. These learning experiences will both deepen your understanding of the Bible and foster your spiritual growth. Your experience is guided by members of CTU’s world-renowned biblical faculty, noted for their skilled teaching, highly respected scholarship, and personal interest in their students.
For more information about CTU Travel programs click here. http://www.ctu.edu/academics/biblical-study-and-travel.