slower, deeper, kinder
A donkeyish manifesto for interculture
It’s a kind of swearword, born to create a hole and then build a bridge of fragile sticks over it.
It’s a word each one of us interprets in the way he likes, wearing a sari over sneakers, eating out at a Chinese restaurant, listening to African music.
It’is a word that needs at least four others to explain it.
Culture: it’s life unfolding in all its aspects
Respect: it’s the splendid perfect distance where one can gently look at the world from.
Curiosity: it draws you towards something you want to understand, touch, taste, get to know, try.
Discovery: it’s not finding something you didnt’t know about before, but finding yourself somewhere unexpected, it’s a sudden familiarity when you say “oh, look. that thing, that person, who really appeared to be totally different, is like me, has something to do with me”
Interculture is not a what, but a how
You look at me, like I look at you
You listen to me, like I listen to you
You come closer, like I get closer
It works like a mirror
Being the same life in different bodies.
I speak, therefore I am
We have many languages:
one that whispers about love, the direct and lighthearted words of friendship,
the open words when one laughs, the few words that accompany silence, the pompous language of important occasions, the words which matter, hurt, caress, inflame, evaporate.
In every language words do this,
so, if we consider closely there is only one language for the humans
Where has the condition before Babel gone?
There are foreign words, not understandable
Words of immigration that remain prisoners,
Words swallowed because they are worth nothing in a country that is not your own,
they don’t reach, don’t meet, don’t explain
I’ve crossed the Ocean and my language was lost
From the ancient root a new one has blossomed
Who knows how much this strong but delicate blooming hurts and how much toil it causes?
Listening is the rope that pulls up the words from the well
We like donkeys, especially their ears
one needs to listen and wait for the words to come forth
they stretch, they fall into place, they connect to each other
One needs to listen for the stuttering, the unfinished phrases, the wrong words
The astounding words stretched between two languages, that walk on a tight rope between here and somewhere else.
the uncertain steps and the unstable balance of those suspended between two worlds
If any of my poor words
and you tell me
even only with your eyes
I burst out
in blessed laughter
but I shake
like a small young mother
who blushes even
if a passerby tells her
that her baby is beautiful.
(Modesty – Antonia Pozzi)
Listening is tiring, your ears alone are not enough, first of all you need to breathe , your eyes need to watch and your hands need to touch, and also a few dancing steps
Languages, like everything else, have a rhythm and everybody’s heart, nobody excluded, beats at the same rate, even when we are still.
Before a word there was a thought and before that an image
Can we reverse this? Starting from the image
This is what art gives us: being inside the very image
The symbol is the common experience of a secret
Art hurts, moves, leaves one without words, entertains, uplifts,
it’s a deeply transforming experience
it makes us human
We cannot say we
Without saying you, you, you, you and you
We is either everyone or it does not exist
We where everyone is equal, where everyone disappears, like a platoon,
does not make anyone happy
If we then, looking carefully, is made up of: us and them, you and us
at the very best it makes us happy in turns
More often somebody is on top and others are left below
If each person can be I instead
The gratitude is so much that naturally we become we
We is a happy circle
Maybe haywire but happy
……… we come from the same country
……… we live in the same street
………. we are the same age
……. we pray to the same God
…….. we follow the same program at the gym
…….. we use the same App
…….. we go to the same school
But it could come about exactly because we like the oddity of beginning pretending to have nothing or little in common
Because we are here, now, doing our best to try to be different instead
The community of different people is transversal to the community
Mixed race is beautiful
Mixed race is unaware of being mixed or beautiful
It is you who looking at them recognize where each piece comes from, but they do not know, they do not care
They feel themselves a symphony.
Presence and conspiracy
Being in the same space continually
to be found by those who return, to keep conflicts together, to soften the boundaries, to contain rites of passage, to resist
Solid as a house, recognisable, open, that allows the presence of everyone because
only the physical presence creates co-inspiration
Virtual presence is always a little put off, I don’t know what the other person is feeling while I’m speaking, or while I’m doing something
A doubt remains
Sharing the same space at the same time is a kind of communication that cannot be substituted
We can say lots of things writing to each other, making video calls, we can even get emotional, sometimes more, because that distance between our bodies makes us more vulnerable and therefore open and hearing each other at the most comforts us, however co-inspiration is not possible
When you turn off that computer, you turn of that App, you look around and solitude makes everything you exchanged, you said, you shared, real: yes, but only half real
Citizenship to bad feelings
If we want to make the racist within ourselves harmless, we first of all need to meet it and get to know it well, even give it a little satisfaction
Otherwise we run the risk of falling into a type of self righteous preaching, which mostly produces counterproductive effects: an excessive production of bad feelings, or an emotional aphasia like the one a young patient of Bruno Bettelheim had:
“My mother washed my mouth with soap to get rid of all the bad words I used to say, and I admit they were really bad words. What she didn’t know was that washing my mouth of all the bad words she washed away the good ones too”.
(B. Bettelheim, Le fiabe e le paure dei bambini) (Fairytales and children’s fears)
The ethics of fragility
Alexander Langer came up with the ethics of fragility
There is only one way to proceed, thinking of it today it is really subversive:
more slowly, more deeply, more kindly
Asinitas Onlus is a not-for-profit organization founded in 2005. It is active in the field of education and social work. Its mission is to promote the care, education, training, sheltering and testimony of Italian and foreign adults and minors. Its primary work focuses on promoting processes of inclusion for subjects perceived by society as non-equals, in order to bolster their social presence. Active education, person-centered care, story-telling, and gathering of biographies and testimony are the privileged methodologies.
As an interdisciplinary working group, it focuses on researching the acquisition of a second language with students who have a low level of literacy in their L1, by adapting several methods, from M. Montessori to Freinet, to the Italian experience of active learning with Cemea and the Movement for cooperative learning.
The organization coordinates two schools of Italian as a second language for foreign women and mothers, refugees and asylum seekers, and migrants In Rome. The schools also include workshops on manual expression; listening spaces for Italian and foreign women and families; theatre workshops; orientation on health services, culture, education and training; training courses for teachers, educators, socio-cultural operators. The association promotes community participation through different activities and social labs in cooperation with local institutions, local NGOs and population to raise awareness on the issue of international migration and inter-cultural exchange.