2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages. Indigenous languages matter for social, economic and political development, peaceful coexistence and reconciliation in our societies. Yet many of them are in danger of disappearing. Every 2 weeks, the world loses an indigenous language and with it an entire cultural & intellectual heritage.
“An International Year is an important cooperation mechanism dedicated to raising awareness of a particular topic or theme of global interest or concern, and mobilizing different players for coordinated action around the world. In 2016, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages, based on a recommendation by the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. At the time, the Forum said that 40 per cent of the estimated 6,700 languages spoken around the world were in danger of disappearing. The fact that most of these are indigenous languages puts the cultures and knowledge systems to which they belong at risk.
In addition, indigenous peoples are often isolated both politically and socially in the countries they live in, by the geographical location of their communities, their separate histories, cultures, languages and traditions. And yet, they are not only leaders in protecting the environment, but their languages represent complex systems of knowledge and communication and should be recognized as a strategic national resource for development, peace building and reconciliation. They also foster and promote unique local cultures, customs and values which have endured for thousands of years. Indigenous languages add to the rich tapestry of global cultural diversity. Without them, the world would be a poorer place.”
from: About IYIL 2019.
Molly of Denali is a new PBS cartoon (created by WGBH Kids, Atomic Cartoons, and CBC Kids) and the first nationally distributed children’s series with a Native American lead. Ten-year-old Molly embodies intercultural dialogue as she walks the line between her family’s traditions (her heritage is Gwich’in, Koyukon and Dena’ina Athabascan) and modern use of the internet, including creating a video blog about her life in rural Alaska.
Stories about this:
New York Times
LISTEN (Learning from Intercultural Storytelling) is a two year project (2016-18), co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Commission and the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research.
LISTEN uses “applied storytelling” as an educational approach for the work with refugees – be it to support language learning, to exchange about cultural differences, to create visions etc. In order to give refugees a voice in the receiving societies and to support their integration, LISTEN explores different approaches to storytelling and how radio and other forms of audio broadcasting (e.g. podcasting) can be used as medium to share those stories. LISTEN provides extensive resources on storytelling in multiple languages, in addition to presenting the stories themselves.
Training seminar for International Electoral Observers, Global Campus of Human Rights, Venice, Italy, 25 -29 November 2019. Deadline: 21 October 2019.
The Global Campus of Human Rights has developed a course aiming at providing training to civilian staff in election observation missions at the first steps of their career (i.e. short term observers). Selected applicants will be allowed to become aware of the role, the tasks and the status of international observers, and will be given a theoretical and practical training on election observation and election observation missions functioning. The training will take place in Venice, at the Global Campus of Human Rights Headquarters, from 25 to 29 November 2019.
Multidisciplinary Residency Program. Theme: Revisiting the Roaring Twenties: Art, Culture and the Ecole de Paris, Paris, France. Deadline: 15 September 2019.
The year 2020 marks the 100th Anniversary of the prolific period of intercultural artistic exchange during the 1920s. To commemorate its legacy, in January 2020 L’AiR Arts at FIAP Paris is pleased to offer a multidisciplinary residency for artists and cultural professionals dedicated to the celebration of intercultural exchange through the arts and the realization of a series of open and inclusive cultural events, including open studios, talks and showcases – each built on the generosity of the Paris based artists and cultural professionals and the curiosity and solidarity of international arts community.
This residency is open to artists working in all art disciplines (visual arts, music, dance, theatre, and literature), as well as cultural professionals interested in local initiatives with international impact. Three-week residency for artists: January 10-31, 2020. One-week residency for cultural professionals: January 24-31, 2020.
NOTE: there are several other types of residencies as well, having different deadlines and dates.
Yo-Yo Ma, Music Video: The Culture of Us.
Yo-Yo Ma, world famous cello player, is playing Bach’s solo cello suites in 36 locations around the world. And in each place he and his team partner with local organizers to “demonstrate culture’s power to create positive change… The Bach project explores and celebrates all the ways that culture makes us stronger as individuals, as communities, as a society, and as a planet.”
“The shared understanding that culture generates in these divisive times can bind us together as one world, and guide us to political and economic decisions that benefit the entire species. We are all cultural beings – let’s explore how culture connects us and can help to shape a better future.”
Wendling, Mike. (13 June 2019). Change A View: One Scottish man’s idea to fix the broken world of online debate. BBC News.
“The more people with diverse points of views and diverse opinions are able to have a civil conversation, the more we have hope in moving society forward.” (Patricia Georgiou, Jigsaw’s head of partnerships and business development, which helped to fund changeaview.com)
“Kal Turnbull started a discussion group, or subreddit, on the social media site Reddit in 2013. Change My View wasn’t meant to shake up the world. The posts cover a huge range of topics and political perspectives – and once they’re live, other Reddit users are urged to argue against the proposition.”
That led to a website, Change A View, in April 2019.
From the Mission Statement: “It can be hard to find the right people and environment for in-person discussion. Yet, the internet—the great connector and, in some ways, equalizer of our time—has largely failed to yield online solutions to this problem. Our options have essentially been limited to social media platforms, but it has become increasingly clear that the environment of these places often leads to heightened tensions. We can do better. Important decisions are made every day as a result of our views, so how we talk about them together matters.”
Lessner, J. (28 May 2019). Cafe Ohlone gives diners a taste of California’s oldest most traditional foods. mitú.
“Food is such a good way to have intercultural dialogue…It’s hard to disrespect a culture when you sit down and eat their food, especially when you enjoy it and you’re around the people, when you’re having a positive experience.” – Vincent Medina
“Indigenous communities not only had their own unique identities, culture, and language – they also had their own foods. And one California restaurant is working to show the world this original California cuisine….Cafe Ohlone is named for the Ohlone tribe indigenous to Northern California’s East Bay. It’s a small backyard restaurant serving up big flavors with even bigger dreams. The cafe’s founders, Vincent Medina and Louis Trevino, have dedicated themselves to reviving the foods of the Ohlone tribe.”
This is a story about the formal welcome of an immigrant group (Chinese) into a new homeland (Australia). It ends with a question about broader applications.
On April 27, 2013, the Maori formally welcomed the Chinese community to Auckland at the Taniwha [a mythical being similar to a dragon] and Dragon Festival held on to Ōrākei marae [their ancestral home] to formalise a relationship between the two cultures. There was a pōhiri [formal welcoming ceremony] and festival.
“During the pōhiri, the kaikōrero [speakers] on both sides recounted the long-standing ties between Māori and Chinese families through market gardening, for instance, and sometimes the shared experience of racism. The festival afterwards highlighted common aspects of Māori and Chinese cultures — the significance of tīpuna [ancestors] and traditions, of taniwha [water spirits] and dragons, community dance, kite-flying. And, of course, food.”
After months of careful planning, thousands of people turned up, and the event was a success, with much learning on both sides. Which made Andrew Robb wonder, might it be appropriate and feasible to organize a comparable event for the Pākehā [White New Zealanders of European descent], many of whom have lived in New Zealand for generations, and now recognize the significance of Māori culture, yet never actually came in “through the front gate,” acknowledging the presence of a pre-existing culture.
And that leads to an even broader question: could new ceremonies be created to welcome various groups of immigrants to their new homelands (even if belatedly)? and if so, would they help smooth the integration process, on both sides?
Robb, A. (March 25, 2017). Are Pākehā up for the challenge? E-Tangata.
Intercultural dialogue is often about finding a way to recognize and reconcile two different sets of assumptions/beliefs. A particularly graceful solution to a conflict of beliefs between locals and tourists is described below. What is uncommon is that a solution was found in acknowledging a lack of action.
Context: Uluṟu /Ayers Rock used to be frequently climbed by visitors, but as of October 26, 2019 is to be closed to further climbing. Uluṟu is an intensely sacred landscape for the Aṉangu people.
“In regards to the climb itself, the management board did a clever thing. Rather than simply encourage visitors not to climb, they provided a way for them to feel they had contributed something by their decision. At one time, there was a visitors’ book on the summit with the title “I climbed Ayers Rock,” where climbers could record their achievement. So, at the visitors’ centre in the nearby town of Yulara, staff installed another book, with the title “I have not climbed Ayers Rock,” where visitors could make a comment about why they chose not to climb. This inspired piece of social psychology enables visitors to see their decision as an active endorsement, rather than a passive abstention. Signing becomes a record of a different kind of achievement. I glanced through some recent comments, many of which mentioned newfound respect for Aboriginal feelings. One visitor wrote: ‘I climbed it 29 years ago. Came back wiser.'”
Among the author’s conclusions: “social change may be hastened if the narratives stress mutual benefit rather than ‘us’ vs ‘them’ antagonism. The Aṉangu position was that not climbing Uluṟu was good for visitors’ bodies (safety), good for their souls (respect for sacredness), and good for building relationships between blackfellas and whitefellas.”
Warne, Kennedy. (December 10, 2017). No more shoes on Uluṟu. E-Tangata.