I’ve recently read about several interesting ways people are encouraging intercultural dialogues, and wanted to call them to attention here. Readers are invited to post additional stories as comments, or send them in via email so they can be considered as additional posts.
The video “Hijabi” by Mona Haydar has only just been posted, and is already sparking a lot of conversations as a result of the uncommon portrayals of Muslim women dancing to rap music. A story about the videotape, including an interview with Haydar, is available on Huffington Post. Previously, she and her husband put up a sign saying “Ask a Muslim” and answered questions from strangers in Cambridge, MA, as a way of diffusing tensions. Read a story about this on Fusion. Apparently they were influenced by a This American Life episode, “Talk to an Iraqi” in which Haider Newmani set up a booth in cities across the US encouraging strangers to come up and ask him questions.
There have been many other examples as well, such as Firas Alshater, who stood blindfolded in the center of Berlin with a sign saying “I am a Syrian refugee. I trust you. Do you trust me? Hug me.” He went on to post a series of videos about under the title Zucker (sugar), describing Germany from the point of view of a refugee, with lots of humor.
Recently the Tate Modern in London organized an exhibit entitled Who are We? in order to encourage conversations about the “multiple crises of identity and belonging in Europe and the UK”.
All of these efforts to start intercultural dialogues serve as important beginnings in different contexts. What other projects do you know about? What have you done yourself?
Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, Director
Center for Intercultural Dialogue