Russell Berrie Fellow Nataliia Pavlyk ’19 Reflects on Orientation Week at the Angelicum

Nataliia Pavlyk is a founder of the Oriental Studies Circle, an IRD organization in Ukraine, and a recipient of the Russell Berrie Fellowship. Currently, she is a student at the Angelicum pursuing her Diploma in Interreligious Studies.

Our orientation week was incredibly heart-warming and inspiring. From the very first moment we met, the organizers managed to create a safe environment for group discussions where everyone was comfortable to share ideas. Various ice-breakers and personal informal presentations helped us to become more acquainted with each other fast, which is very important for further collaboration and encouraging team spirit. Being in a faraway country, I felt at home.

The program was a perfect combination of formal and non-formal education matching teaching and learning styles, which sparked curiosity and the desire to explore more. I greatly enjoyed the work in small groups on Nostra Aetate, which gave us a great perspective on interreligious dialogue exchanging personal experiences from Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant backgrounds, as well as clergy and lay attitudes. In addition, the session with the Russell Berrie Fellowship alumni inspired my abilities for further creations and contributions. Furthermore, the visit to the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews offered us a great vivid experience of interfaith dialogue in practice encouraging enthusiasm and professionalism in our future work in this field.

Overall, the start of the program exceeded all my expectations. I feel so grateful and benefited to become a part of the Russell Berrie family and I do hope to contribute to the program as much as I can.

Undoubtedly, one of the most impressive parts of the orientation was the guided tours to the Vatican and Jewish Quarter. An unforgettable journey through almost 3,000 years from the stone ruins of ancient Rome to the steadfast rock in the Vatican, upon which the Church was built, will remain a treasure in my memory forever. A cohort of 9 people from different countries and even continents praying together over the tomb of St. Peter is something beyond any words, a mystery that brings catharsis and liberates the soul.