A symposium that started yesterday and runs till May 23 on Paros will be «a catalyst for intercultural exchange,» say the organizers. The International Writing Program (IWP) of the University of Iowa and the Fulbright Foundation in Greece have invited writers, artists and thinkers from around the world to focus on «what we have in common.» The symposium, funded through a grant from the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is co-sponsored by the Fulbright Foundation in Greece, EKEMEL (European Translation Center) and the office of the mayor of Paros. Participants’ essays form the basis of discussions and are later published in a single volume with an introduction and an edited transcript of the discussions. The program aims for the meeting in Paros and the book to articulate a vision of a world in which the shared interests of humanity take pride of place. The week in Paros balances formal and informal activities to maximize thoughtful interaction. Formal sessions are videotaped for transcription and editing, and the group will also travel together to locations of historical interest. Most of the writers, artists and thinkers are funded via a grant from the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Among the distinguished participants from the US, Brazil, UK, India, Indonesia, Israel, Kenya, Romania and Sri Lanka are three Greeks: poet Stratis Haviaras, who teaches creative writing at Harvard and EKEMEL; novelist, poet, playwright and columnist Alexis Stamatis; and Anastassis Vistonitis, a poet, journalist, translator and co-founder of the Greek Collecting Society of Literary Works.