Dr. Stefania Travagnin, Assistant Professor of Religion in Asia and Director of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Culture in Asia (CSRCA) at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, recently returned from her first official visit to the Faculty of Missiology at Pontificia Università Urbaniana in Vatican City. She has been appointed as Visiting Professor at this University.
Stefania Travagnin was appointed Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Missiology at Urbaniana in June 2016. She resided in Vatican City from 20 February through 20 March to teach the course unit Buddhism in Contemporary East Asia, which was open to students from the faculties of Philosophy, Theology and Missiology at Urbaniana. During her stay, she was hosted by the University's
Centre for Chinese Studies . In that capacity, she gave a public talk,'Quando la preghiera diventa azione: Monache buddiste e impegno sociale in Cina Popolare e Taiwan', which explored forms and levels of social engagement and humanitarian action of Chinese and Taiwanese Buddhist nuns. She also gave classes on Chinese Buddhism in Prof. Alessandro Dell’Orto’s course unit on Chinese religions, and worked on enlarging the Centre’s bibliography and databases on Chinese Buddhism.
How did Dr Travagnin find her first official stay as Visiting Professor? From the pictures taken on several occasions and this news article on the Urbaniana website , the lectures appear to have been success and very well attended. Travagnin says, 'It was exciting, challenging and edifying to be teaching a really international class, with more than 50 students from several countries in South America, Africa, Europe and Asia. The continuous parallels and cross-references between Christianity (especially Catholicism) and Buddhism that animated our class discussions will stay in my heart for long. The respect for other beliefs and the sincere interest my students showed in Buddhism gives me much hope for a constructive and successful future of inter-faith dialogue and cooperation.'
'I feel very honoured and fortunate to have had this opportunity to share my research and years of fieldwork within Buddhist communities in East Asia with students and colleagues at Urbaniana University. Not to mention that this has been my very first teaching experience in my mother tongue, Italian! I am extremely grateful that everyone was so kind and welcoming, from the Rector Magnificus, the Vice Rector, the Dean of the Faculty of Missiology, colleagues at the Centre for Chinese Studies and at the Library, the supporting staff, the students, to the Catholic sisters and lay personnel at the C.I.A.M. I even enjoyed all the football related chats (about that: ‘Forza Napoli!’) at the café. And last, but not least, I was able to attend Pope Francis’s weekly Angelus, and the Rite of Penance that he presided over on 17 March.'
Is Dr Travagnin already planning her next visit to the Pontifical University? 'These course units are offered every other year, so I really hope to be asked to teach this one again, or to contribute in some way to the education programme of Urbaniana University, which I found a comprehensive institution where research, teaching and societal service all merge into a community effort. I certainly aim to continue my collaboration with Urbaniana’s Centre for Chinese Studies. Hopefully there will be more cooperation between that Centre and our Centre for the Study of Religion and Culture in Asia. I may be able to go back in the early summer of 2017 already, for some research on Buddhist material at the historical archive in Urbaniana. And, if I am lucky with my findings, these might be the first steps in a larger research project on religious texts.'
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