Art and Intercultural Dialogue in Iceland

Applied ICDThe Reykjavik City Library in Iceland has started an  initiative called ‘Beyond Words’ using art to foster intercultural dialogue. This was developed by Martyna Karolina Daniel, project organiser and the library’s specialist in intercultural affairs.

Martyna and her colleagues are committed to making the city’s libraries a safe haven for all Icelanders, whether native or immigrant and a place where cross-cultural dialogue can take place.

The library is offering a variety of art workshops, making available a wide range of foreign-language books, and using more symbols in their signage in response to linguistic differences. They also offer storytelling in multiple languages, inviting community members to read books in any language they know, and invite extended families to participate. And they co-sponsored a Story Circle Map of Iceland, painted 2013 by 35 women who have participated in Women’s Story Circle, coming from 18 countries to live in Iceland. To make the panting they used the method of the indigenous people of Australia, which entails that many work together to create artworks.

For further information, see: 

Askham, Poppy. (2020, July 21). Beyond words: Reykjavík’s city libraries use art to foster interculturalism. The Reykjavik Grapevine.

Interfaith Dialogue Through Chocolate

Applied ICDBorn in Morocco, now based in Germany, Nadia Doukali has created Iftarlade chocolate which is both kosher and halal, with a label in Hebrew, Arabic, and German.

Doukali first designed a Ramadan calendar, which she called “Iftarlender,” (made up of the word “Iftar” – the evening meal during Ramadan used to break each day’s fast, and the German word “kalender” for the German advent calendars with small paper doors, and sayings or candy behind them). Then she created Iftarlade chocolate (“Iftar” + “schokolade”, or chocolate in German). She decided to make it halal, and then wanted it to be kosher as well, so she worked to gain the appropriate certifications. She sees her products as a way for people to be “united in chocolate.”

Read more here:

Avidan, Igal. (28 May 2020). Muslim German sets new bar for interfaith relations with kosher-halal chocolate. The Times of Israel.

Loho, Petra. (20 May 2020). Counting down to Eid? In Germany, Nadia Doukali gave the traditional Advent calendar a Muslim twist. Salaam Gateway.


COVID-19 versus ICD

Applied ICDCOVID-19 vs. Intercultural Dialogue: What Impact? An interview of Professor Fethi Mansouri (UNESCO Chairholder, Cultural Diversity and Social Justice, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia) by Ann-Belinda Preis (Chief of UNESCO Intercultural Dialogue).

A good question. See the entire interview, but for an excerpt:

ABP: How does lack of contact and social interaction impact the broader Intercultural Dialogue (ICD) agenda, which is built on connectivity, contact and exchange?

FM: This is perhaps where COVID-19 presents a significant challenge to the ICD agenda. Intercultural dialogue has, as one of its core premises, contact between people. And the reason why we have contact as a core premise is because there is an assumption that when people get to know one another, prejudice might be reduced, and that issues of discrimination might disappear. So COVID-19 and its emphasis on social distancing means that a lot of what we would like to achieve through intercultural dialogue, in particular in bringing people together, bringing communities together, bringing diverse communities together (and diversity here means diversity of ethnic backgrounds, religious beliefs, nationalities etc.)…

Intercultural dialogue is in itself an essential tool that we will need in the post-COVID-19 environment.

We will need to renegotiate a new global compact, a new social contract, and I think dialogue will have to play a key role in that. So it is being perhaps compromised right now but it has a big role to play in the post-COVID-19 world that will emerge.

SIETAR Europa Cross-Cultural Coffee Breaks

Applied ICDCross-Cultural Coffee Break, offered by SIETAR Europa.

What is a cross-cultural coffee break (CCC Break)? Every participant grabs a cup of coffee (cappuccino, latte macchiato, espresso, you name it) and dives into a vivid exchange on an intercultural topic.

The Objectives of CCC Breaks: Sharing and Learning in an informal virtual setting. Every CCC Break is designed for the maximum number of 10 participants in order to allow the maximum of interaction between participants.

Team behind the scenes: Barbara Covarrubias Venegas, Joanna Sell, Gradiola Kapaj, Camilla Degerth.

We Rise Video: Response to COVID-19 (Italy)

Applied ICDWE RISE video, prepared by Class 5B, Liceo Artistico Aldo Passoni [High School of Arts Aldo Passion], Torino, Italy.

NOTE: A prior class of Paola’s won 2nd prize in the CID Video Competition in 2018, and then prepared a reflection on making that video to aid potential 2019 competitors. This video shows how a group might create a video for the 2020 competition, despite quarantine orders.

The idea came in the middle of the eye of the hurricane of COVID-19 in Italy. It was mid-March 2020 and, in the north of Italy where I live, the number of infected people was tripling every day, the hospital system was nearly collapsing, and the death toll was appalling.

I had been meeting my students online regularly. Before starting our lessons on English Literature and Visual Arts, we always had short conversations about how they were, how their family members were, and how they were coping with the situation. Looking at their faces through the screen, I saw their sense of bewilderment, but I also saw their resilience. Their young bodies and their youthful energies were confined, but their minds were not.

Therefore, I thought that maybe we could try together to get out of our physical confinement, and send a message of resilience, solidarity, and hope which could reach other people outside our homes. Yet, such a message was also directed inward to ourselves as an act of resistance and as the possibility to open our inner window on the future.

I proposed that my students make a video in which each of them would read some lines of a poem or a song. Participation was voluntary, yet the majority of them accepted immediately. I looked for some poems on a website which is very well done and which I often use for my lessons too: I chose some lines from four poems which I found particularly inspiring for the purpose we had in mind. I then proposed the poems to the participants: we read the poems together, I translated some parts for them, and then they decided which poem they preferred. Then, each participant read the whole poem that s/he had chosen, recording it on her/his mobile phone or computer. Meanwhile, I had asked a friend of mine, Luca Gasparini, a professional film editor, whether he could edit the different recordings. He accepted immediately and willingly. So, I collected all the different videos and uploaded them for him on a platform. He promptly edited them, and finished in only a few days.

I am so proud of my students! To spread such a message, they accepted to foreground the fragility and the vulnerability of speaking in English, which is not their native language. Even the students who have more difficulties in speaking English agreed to participate, showing that exposing one’s frailty can be a great act of courage. I think they all demonstrated great generosity, hope, and trust.

A final note on the title. The title was inspired by one of the poems, but it was important to convey plurality and solidarity by using use the inclusive pronoun ‘we’ – referring to ‘we’ in the video, but also to ‘we’ in not only our immediate communities, but also in the global community. Then, the verb ‘to rise’ which means ‘to stand up’ and indicates resilience and hope; but at the same time ‘to rise’ also references the rising sun. Therefore, our message also points out that after darkness comes a new dawn.

I hope you like the video!
Paola Giorgis

Containing COVID-19: Mobile Documentaries Competition (China)

Applied ICDCall for entries: Containing COVID-19: Mobile Documentaries, International Mobile Storytelling Competition Series 2020. Institute for Mobile Studies, School of International Communications, University of Nottingham, Ningbo,  China. Deadline: 1 June 2020.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 in early January 2020, global efforts in containing the virus have been widely documented by mobile users around the world. To document and enhance global joint efforts in containing the virus, we organize an online international mobile documentary competition.

Themes: The competition has, but not limited to, the following three suggested themes: (a) connections (with a special focus on connecting people, expertise and resources although physically distanced during the virus outbreak), (b) collaborations (with a special focus on collaboration processes on different fronts in containing the virus), and (c) contributions (with a special focus on achievements and progress in containing the virus locally, nationally or globally). Other suggested themes could include nurses stories, doctor stories, patients stories, patients’ family stories, or city stories in containing COVID-19.

Categories: The competition has two categories: (a) original documentaries or (b) edited documentaries using video clips collected with permission from original sources.

CIVIS: A European Civic University

Applied ICDCIVIS: A European Civic University is a network of 8 universities designed to create links across and beyond Europe. CIVIS is oriented towards the Mediterranean and Africa.

Universities included: Aix Marseille Université (France), National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece),University of Bucharest (Romania), Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium), Universidad Autonoma de Madrid (Spain), Sapienza Università di Roma (Italia), Stockholms Universitet (Sweden), Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen (Germany). This alliance was created under the Erasmus+ call of the European Commission, bringing together 384,000 students and 55,000 faculty and staff.

The Mediterranean zone and Africa will be at the heart of their global strategy. Founders firmly believe that the future of Europe and that of Africa are intertwined. This is why CIVIS will affirm its vocation as a bridge between Europe, the Mediterranean and Africa, as part of a long-term commitment.

Global Migration Film Festival

EventsGlobal Migration Film Festival, International Organization for Migration, Geneva, Switzerland. Submission Deadline: June 21, 2020. Event date: November 28-December 18, 2020.

The Global Migration Film Festival has an itinerant and unique format. The films that make up the Official Selection are included in a list which is then shared with about 100 IOM offices and partners worldwide. Each participating country office will then select the films to be screened locally during the Festival, which runs from 28 November – 18 December 2020, worldwide.

Filmmakers will receive a final list of countries where their films will be screened by mid-November. Films can be screened in impromptu scenarios, from traditional cinemas and universities worldwide, to open-air theatres in the desert in Niger and detention centers in Libya. All screenings are entrance free. This means that IOM needs the authorization from the films’ rightsholder(s) to host screenings without territory and frequency limitations for the duration of the Festival.

Innovative Visual Presentation of Research Results: REMINDER

Applied ICDREMINDER, a multidisciplinary project carried out by 14 universities and research institutions around Europe, led by the University of Oxford, has worked with Soapbox to develop an innovative non-linear presentation of the team’s results.

The REMINDER [Role of European Mobility and its Impacts in Narratives, Debates and European Union Reforms] project was “a large-scale attempt to address the full spectrum of social and economic consequences of migration within the European Union and how this phenomenon is reflected in media, policy and public opinion around Europe.” The project addressed five major themes: numbers, impacts, media, attitudes, and  governance. The team decided all of these connected and influenced one another in a range of different and complicated ways, which is why they worked so hard to develop a way to show the overlaps. Both the results and the method are worth learning about.

A complete list of publications produced by members of the team is available here.



Global Museum Guides Foster ICD

Applied ICDGlobal Guides, Penn Museum, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.

What better way to learn about the culture of another place than to speak to someone who grew up there? Through the Global Guides Program, the Penn Museum now offers gallery tours led by immigrants and refugees. In addition to sharing historical information about the artifacts on display, the guides combine personal experiences and stories to interpret objects from their countries of origin.

Global Guides are available to the general public on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays for the Middle East, African, Mexican and Central American Galleries. Private Global Guide tours can be scheduled for groups of 10 or more. Discounted group rates are available. Tours are also available in the Guides’ native languages: Middle East Galleries tours in Arabic, Africa Galleries tours in French, and Mexico and Central America in Spanish.

For further information about this and other museums doing something similar, see:
Ulaby, Neda (17 February 2020). Refugee docents help bring a museum’s global collection to life. National Public Radio.