During the final VolinHA consortium meeting in Paris, all the partners of HO & SO gathered to discuss about their practices and their intercultural vision in managed project.
During the final consortium meeting in Paris (21st-23rd June), we had the opportunity to test out one of the exercises proposed in the resource pack on Intercultural collaboration Comhlamh and FOCSIV are working on.
The exercise was part of the 3° chapter titled ‘Working together’ and concretely involved all the consortium participants, CVS volunteers, hosting and sending organizations representatives in the role playing game of “Minoria and Majoria”, two imaginary neighboring countries: one with noble history and proud of its conquered independence, suspicious towards any external help, but with few natural resources and many economic and social problems; and the latter rich, wealthy, caring about the future of less fortunate countries and ready to offer an hand to solve some of the problems they suffer.
Participants were separated into two groups and invited to play the role of the inhabitants of one country, interiorizing the conditions the imaginary inhabitants lived and preparing themselves to meet their neighbors, dealing with their expectations and their possible secret agenda.
The role play exercise revealed how challenging it is to translate the theoretical knowledge of intercultural collaboration into practice, even for those who were more familiar with the topic.
Everybody normally agrees on how important is to start a relation with shared commonalities, to show real interest in others, to take due time to enter in contact, to respect different approaches, point of views and priorities and finally not to judge, especially when there are international collaborations at stake. It is an asset that the nature and the quality of a relationship is something that is created together, but that role play game revealed that there may be pitfalls and unforeseen expectations that need to be handled together: different priorities and interests, different definition of “needs” and idea of “help”.
Not to mentioning prejudices and stereotypes that may raise spontaneously due to the meeting of different cultural backgrounds.
“You should have told me to worry about the cultural elements!”
Said a Majoria’s inhabitant referring to the exercise instructions. This is one of the reactions gathered during the debriefing activity at the end of the exercise.
That is to say: please go beyond the economic, social and political data of another country, but tell me to care about the relationship and the others.
A statement that shows how important is to continue working on a Resource pack on Intercultural collaboration in order to build any collaboration on a strong basis of respect, equality and mutual understanding among peoples.
The intercultural collaboration issue should not been taken for granted anymore, but considered as the milestone of any Humanitarian Aid and Development cooperation aiming at supporting and preserving human dignity and life.