This is the third day of summer school and as we get more and more accustomed to the local circumstances and the new friends we made, I am particularly struggling with the lack of WiFi. Being on the Wipro Campus has its advantages but easy access to WiFi on campus is not one of them. Thankfully we have Aman there to our rescue, who has gone across the street with us to deal with this matter. He had to carefully manage several ladies (and their needs) and our crazy Siya who thinks he can just run across the streets without being hit by any vehicle (or cow).
The morning started with a lecture by Caroline. We discussed how we are all affected by globalization. There are different opinions on what globalization is. It offers new opportunities and new challenges. We watched three video’s. The third one impressed me most. It showed how the Maori used to live and what happened to their land and people because of colonization. Interestingly, they showed all landmarks, like big rivers and such. It struck me that they placed much emphasis on the natural environment, whereas in the West such things are hardly ever shown, except for maybe on Discovery Channel. We discussed that globalization has underlying assumptions. We questioned what a dignified life means and how culture enables us to influence the world. We concluded that pluralism is rather difficult and involves power struggles of which we are not always aware. The question was posed: is pluralism even an option?
The second part of the day, 4 thematic themes were presented and we divided ourselves into groups. At the end of summer school each group will present and facilitate a discussion on the topic. I chose the theme of reconciliation and social cohesion, together with Melissa (South Africa), Roos and Daniëlle (Netherlands) and Ayu (Indonesia).
In the afternoon, we went for a walk to the Tank, which is kind of a lake. On our way we passed several temples and Aman explained about the Gods we saw.
While walking we endured the constant gazing of many people, who looked at us as if we are a rare specimen. But the curiosity comes from both sides and we have the luxury of Aman who answers all our questions, while the onlookers have to do with whatever imagination they come up with.
At the Tank we noticed tents, which house many families who live there. I realized how privileged I am. A sense of shame and guilt came over me. I realized that many people living in those tents, would never be able to live in the new apartments behind them.
We continued and spoke about the unfairness of life and how we each deal with that. At the same time we enjoyed some quietness near the lake, because the street noises were muted due to its distance from the main road. While walking, I thought about my friends in the Middle East who rarely have open spaces where they can take a stroll. It made me think of how we all deal with our local struggles, yet we also work towards a broader goal and a more just and equal world. Whatever that may mean.
Andra Iacob works as Project Officer in the Mideast Creatives project at the Head Office of the Humanist Institute for Co-operation with Developing Countries (Hivos) in The Hague, the Netherlands