Traveling through some European countries again I sometimes reflect on the distances between people’s understanding and imagination. Townships and life conditions of most South Africans are known to many in Germany only via TV, a view protected by glass and the possibility to switch it off when it comes to close. How does one bring the real colors, the smell, the atmosphere from one continent to the other?
Also the question of realities and how I name them is different and having the same vocabulary does not mean to understand each other. This is true when talking about people from different life environments, but even within my own circles I often experience that words can have so many different meanings and create so many different associations. What very often irritates me is that words are connected with judgement, with “good or bad” feelings, with “white or black” . The older I get the more I get irritated when descriptions are perceived as judgements and how often people take things much more personal than they are meant to be.
I guess, this all is important to reflect when traveling the world to bring people together and let them join hands, who are far away and maybe even never meet, but hear about each other. But this also important to reflect when working in international teams where people from different cultures and languages are working together. Also HOPE Cape Town has this kind of challenges, bringing together different South African cultures and adding the European spice. Quite a mixture, but I believe in diversity and I am sure that this challenge is also an asset because it forces us again and again to listen to each other and to learn from each other. A lifelong and never-ending learning curve – and at the same time a motor for development into the future.