From the Perspective of a Fellow Participant: A Great Opportunity to Meet like-minded Colleagues and Share Practices
First, I would like to express how fascinating are both topics to me. I am personally convinced that cultures can live together as well as work and create to innovate and solve problems. However, I often have to concede that having the will to live and work together is not enough, facing the diversity of personalities and cultures. To be able to live and work together, we need to constantly consent the effort, reflect on ourselves and others, then meet and experiment. Getting together with like-minded people working for human rights, for diversity, cultural exchanges and mobility, as well as fighting against discrimination and hate, is therefore always a great opportunity to feel part of a whole and get inspired by colleagues. I particularly appreciated the first activity entitled “Lines of Differences”. It enabled participants to:
- first, reflect on themselves and others in term of what they think makes them unique as well as what they think they have in common or not with others in the group
- then, discover how right or not they were, discovering common things they would never have imagined and differences they did not perceive or think of initially.
A complementary question that could be added in the first phase would be that of dreams and fears, likes and dislikes. That could remind us even more of how similar the human experience is, thus making the link between all of us stronger. I think that recognising each and everyone’s uniqueness, while recognising the human common experience as well as differences (common traits, experiences, likes and activities or difference in them), helps us understanding how complex human beings can be, how rich and diverse we are together, how complementary also. I would recommend that activity to start trainings and seminars on the topic of diversity as it is a funny way to get to know each other as well as a good introduction to the topic, revealing how subjective in our perceptions of ourselves and others we can be, thus making us aware of looking past them and experiencing the Other beyond our biases.
This activity reminded me a lot of the experiment and clip “Don’t Put People in Boxes” made in Denmark. It starts with people placed in boxes marked on the floor, who then move out of the boxes to gather around statements they share such as “ We, who have overcome great adversity”, “We, who are madly in love”, etc…
Having a look at multiculturalism and interculturality elsewhere was quite interesting. I had not been conscious so far of how strong ethnic, religious and political categorization is based on someone’s name in some regions of the world. People are literally tagged with labels whatever they actually are, think or believe and then treated accordingly. I am also quite disturbed having heard that past colonizers visiting the country are better treated than locals, which seems to me like locals themselves forgot their own origins as well as brothers and sisters due to colonization. Colonization marked quite a bit the discourse, which emphasizes my thoughts on how traumatizing on the one end, and how decisive such shared history between cultures can be for intercultural relations..
The Association ASTU who was invited to speak in the afternoon presented its work as well as the French historical context and evolution as regards migration and policies. It was interesting to hear the views of Turks who migrated to France in the 70s. I particularly appreciated the reminder they made by recalling that that a perceived group, here the Turks, is not heterogeneous and the same because it shares an origin : 2019 Turks in France are not the same as those in Turkey nowadays as they explained. Getting both the insight of the experience of their community in France as well as of French migration history and policies was quite a good combination to grasp both realities. They also gave their definitions of interculturality and keys, according to them, towards intercultural dialogue and relations,. They also insisted on the active and positive role newcomers have to take in a new country by raising-awareness of locals and nationals regarding issues or gaps they face and by communicating their claims, rather than acting as victims or adopting bad attitudes.
To finish, a last activity was proposed during which we reflected in small groups on our definitions of multiculturalism and interculturality. Groups chose to focus rather on the definition of interculturality. While we all had similar views, agreeing on common words and sentences to create a definition that would reflect all of them was a challenge. This was a good opportunity to remind us of our diversity and uniqueness and to train our capacity to create something together.
By the way, here would be my definition :
“Interculturality is the positive, constructive and fulfilling interaction between human beings from all horizons in their uniqueness, complexity, similarities and differences at any stages of their lives enabling a spirit of living-together and doing-together.”
A special thanks to AMSED for having organised such a day and hosted us so well!