Erasmus+ ‘United in Diversity’ Youth Exchange in Italy
United in Diversity – perhaps this is the best way to describe Europe.
Cultural diversity has always been an inherent part of Europe. However, what does it mean to live in a culturally diverse society? Does it mean to accommodate others and lose your identity? Or is it about the enrichment of one’s own culture and revelation of new values? On January 12th, 2016 I went to participate in the project, “United in Diversity,” to be held in Pescara, Italy.
More than 40 young people from 6 countries came to live together for a week to create a mini model of our culturally diverse world. No matter how many times you have met people from other cultures, or how long you have lived with them, you still go through the same fears with thousands of questions in your head:
“Who are they?”
“Are they nice?”
“Do I need to leave my identity to get along with them, or will we be able to embrace our diversity and coexist in harmony?”
And here you are. You see these smiley, friendly people with the same questions in their eyes, “Who are they?” And this floating question in the air already unites us. You don’t feel lonely and lost anymore in this culturally diverse mini-world.
Having in mind hundreds of stereotypical information about different cultures, you create a special mindset and a behavioral pattern in your head to deal with your new acquaintances. But here you face the reality that six people from the same country and same culture can be… so different.
Then all the planned approaches you have created in your mind, based on preliminary information, turns into ashes because you have missed a crucial point — individuality. The problem with our perception of cultures is that we always generalize and label people with certain features and don’t give space for individuality.
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