top of page

Intercultural brotherhood

By LUISA FERNANDA RAMIREZ MESA

When I decided to go to Loppiano I tried to live an intercultural experience, but at the time I did not know what that word really meant, let alone what it practically implied. For many people, interculture is simply the interaction between different cultures, and in fact, from the very first moment in the Youth Project I got to know people from different countries, cultures, ages and religious beliefs. Yet, with my 3-month experience, I learnt that interculture goes beyond just the simple interactions, because it implies opening one's mind and heart to a real and authentic encounter with the other, to recognise, value and love them together with their culture. This means that true interculture takes us from coexistence and tolerance to the level of 'loving diversity and being enriched by differences'.


Notwithstanding, I have asked myself on several occasions this question during my time as a volunteer: should I sacrifice my culture in order to experience true interculture?In response, my experience as a volunteer has taught me that valuing the culture of the other does not mean losing one’s own essence; on the contrary, in the daily exercise of encountering the other we can recognise that we share the same dignity as humans and that at the same time there are differences that make us unique.In this practice to know the other, we are able to be more conscious of who we are and also deepen"OUR SELF", therefore, every intercultural experience becomes an opportunity to " find ourselves by recognising the other ".

Another element I would like to mention is that the experience in Loppiano helped me to become conscious of the mental structures, prejudices, preconceptions and cognitive biases (distortions) that limited me when meeting new people. I believe that during the culture shock of the first month I realized that I was unconsciously judging certain situations or people based on my previous knowledge, cultural standards and values, but I did not know the reality and meaning of the other person's life. In this sense, I learnt that 'interculture also starts with the loss of our prejudices', and this exercise of humility really leads us to build authentic relationships and make true friends around the world.


To conclude, I would like to point out that I have often wondered if the Youth Project was really a volunteering experience, at first I considered that it was not because of my idea of volunteering as a direct and material service to a community in need. Instead, after my experience, I believe that the Youth Project is a volunteer experience in which we authentically dedicate ourselves to make an experience of life with others as well as serving the community and the world, while being a living and real image of creating spaces for true fraternity where difference is valued and not destroyed.


The Youth Project is a safe space where young people learn, in theory and even more in practice, how to build intercultural bridges and break down walls of prejudice to make our world a more united world.


28 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page