Posts Tagged 'divercities'

DISCOVERING DIFFERENCE CAN BE FUN

Six Maasai warriors attracted the lion’s share of UK media coverage when they took part in the 2008 London Marathon to raise money for fresh water supplies to their village in Tanzania.

Much was made of Visiting England: A Cultural Briefing, the guidebook provided by their sponsors, Greenforce, to prepare them for the surprises they would encounter. British people it warned, ‘may look like they have a frown on their face, (but) they are very friendly people – many of them just work in offices, jobs they don’t enjoy, and so they do not smile as much as they should’.

Spitting may be okay back home, but in England it is best done ‘in a sink or in some trees when no one is looking’. Urination should take place in a lavatory ‘rather than the nearest bushes’, and if they see cows or sheep ‘in a field, seemingly left alone… remember that these animals are owned by someone and are being looked after’.

The Maasai made plenty of friends and interpersonal relationships are always the best way of appreciating another’s cultural identity. Guidebooks have a role to play, and art, film and music offer more public vehicles for expression. The print and electronic media combine both private and public techniques, and are the means by which broader messages can be communicated to, from and between governments and communities.

The nature of these messages determines the extent to which we acknowledge our similarities and differences, weaknesses and strengths, and our aspirations and anxieties.

When we know little about each other we tend to be suspicious and distrustful. Trust and respect have to be earned on an individual basis. Sometimes, literally, we don’t have the right language for communication. And we are more likely to misinterpret others’ behaviour if we have no understanding of cultural norms – about public greetings, for example, or celebrations, dress, food, hygiene, gender roles or religious belief.

Even recent history has shown that ignorance can be a killer. It is easier to foment violence and hatred when addressing audiences that lack basic information. It is more difficult to stirring up antipathy when personal acquaintance and knowledge has undermined the corrosive influence of stereotypes.

DiverCities is an attempt to demonstrate how mass media can create space for intercultural learning. Taking the themes and participants at the Intercultural Cities Conference in Liverpool as our starting point, a team of print and broadcast journalists will set out to tell stories about how people live, work, express themselves and interact in multi-cultural societies.

Our aim is to generate interest and enjoyment in breaking down barriers both between mass media and their publics, and between the different cultural communities that inhabit the great cities of Europe.

Our ‘virtual newsroom’ will include collaborations with local media and ‘citizen journalists’. Our stories – celebrating diversity, communicating about difference, and promoting understanding – will be distributed through the Internet. We hope they will inspire similar coverage throughout the new Europe and beyond.

Mike Jempson
Editor-in-chief, DiverCities
E-zine for the Intercultural Cities Conference, Liverpool 1-3 May 2008

For more information
http://www.maasaimarathon.org/
http://www.greenforce.org

www.coe.int/interculturalcities

http://www.interculturaldialogue2008.eu/

Advertisements

Intercultural Photos

RSS Blogs mentioning Intercultural Cities

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Blog Stats

  • 11,086 hits
Advertisements