Between the travels and the organization of migrationlab's presence in 3 different countries in the next 2 months, I am of course trying to stay up to date on the refugees situation in Europe at the moment and process everything that is going on.
Behind the economic facts, the political discourse in its hunt for votes, mass media manipulation and social media frenzy there is one essential aspect I feel is somehow forgotten: the emotional and psychological implication of these events on all of us whether refugees, migrants, minorities or locals, whether we live in the West or the East in the North or the South or we traveled from afar.
Being in touch with our emotions and the way we handle them and our thoughts influence our actions. We tend to forget that the way we think and feel inside shapes our outside world. And in this very difficult times, our emotions are quite mixed: anger, fear, trauma, the feeling of being invaded, the fear of loosing your identity, the feeling of loosing your culture, the feeling of not having anything to go back to, the feeling of not belonging anywhere anymore, the feeling of having to begin a new life away from everything you know, the fear of the unknown, the fear of having to deal with people from different cultures, the joy you survived a war and a crossing in a shaky boat over the Mediterranean, the endless pain of loosing your loved ones in the crossing, the sadness and disappointment of feeling unwelcomed in one land, the joy and hope of seeing people cheering and singing on your arrival in another land, the tiredness, the exhaustion, the feeling of not knowing what's next.
I believe that our collective challenges nowadays is to learn to live outside our comfort zones. To acknowledge that in order to be able to live together in all our variety in a common space we need to make a change about how we look at and think about each other. We need to be kind and patient with ourselves and each other. We need to learn and think before placing judgements. We need to practice empathy. We need to learn tolerance. We need to change our perceptions and challenge our stereotypes and prejudices, be more curious, stay informed, filter the information we receive, be active and involve ourselves in activities or projects that address this current issue or simply start our own initiatives. We need to start learning to see the beauty and benefits in the diversity not only problems and burdens. We need to open our eyes and minds if we want to peacefully coexist in Europe from now on.
Inspired by my own experience of migration, my goal with migrationlab from its very beginning was to give a voice to all of us internationally known as migrants, refugees, minorities or host communities/locals no matter our cultural and professional backgrounds; to introduce the individual behind the nationality, the political context, the geographical provenience, the stereotypes and give them a humane face; to share our stories and learn about each other in order to get closer. All this in an attempt to cancel the fear of the other and to accept one another.
Because recently I've been asked if I was planning anything special with migrationlab to address the current refugees situation, I will of course involve myself in any way I can depending on my location, as I'm quite mobile at the moment, but my main focus is and will be on continuing to carry on what I started with migrationlab: bring people together in spaces that we can call home, give them a voice and together find solutions for improving the intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding between communities across Europe. Everything I do at migrationlab is about bringing a change in the way we perceive migration with the involvement of all parts concerned; to inspire and invite to acceptance, understanding and tolerance between people of different cultures and present migration in a positive and creative way.
I can tell you how difficult that is especially when there's no or very little financial means. I can tell you how hard it is to run a social project, to organize activities not only in 1 country but in 3 at the same time. How much work it is without having a team behind, but fortunately wonderful friends and partners who help me in any way they can. I can tell you how psychology straining it is for me as well sometimes to meet and talk to some of the migrants or refugees, to hear their stories and emotional and psychological struggles; some of them are able to contribute but others simply can't as emotionally it is still too hard for them. But the kind of hardships I encounter is nothing compared to what these refugees are going through. So, I'm not complaining. I'm taking all the strength and motivation from these brave people, no different than you and I in wanting to rebuild their lives and simply have a chance to peace. Look how they inspire already!
We might be all under an emotional and psychological shock at the moment, but this shock needs to be accompanied by action, as rightfully suggests this article. At the moment I'm also in the middle of processing everything that happens around me and at the same time I'm also deeply into the organization of migrationlab's activities coming up very soon as it follows:
Sept 23 - 25, Idea Camp - Botkyrka Sweden - for 3 days I'll be working together with other Ideas Makers in order to develop our projects which address migration challenges through culture.
Sept 25 - Oct 4, Vienna Design Week - Austria - Welcome to the Living Room: 10 days of activities, workshops, cultural events and performances in Vienna's 10th district, called Favoriten, also the most densely populated district with a majority of immigrant population. A district where the different communities are segregated and which the neighbourhood itself is quite separated from the rest of the city. I will be there together with Verein08 and Storialab to invite to Exchange worlds. Re-discover and Re-connect.
October 22 - The Hague, Netherlands - Welcome to the Living Room @ GEMAK art gallery as part of the Spotlight:Romania, a showcase of Romanian cinema and documentary photography on show in the Hague throughout October. Also the first project of @eastwards.nl cultural initiative by two inspiring Romanians, Corina Burlacu (@corinaburlacu) and Bianca Olivia Nita (@biancaolivia29). More details coming soon.
There is much work to do, your help these days and in the future is much needed and you can get involved in many ways. At migrationlab I need all the help I can get. Because:
We are all Humans and we all deserve a chance to peace!
From The Hague with love,