As we near the end of this memorable global citizenship program, we reflect upon the many lessons that have been learnt through our hard-work and determination. Global citizenship is not about boundaries, but rather about empathy and understanding.
Throughout the process of engaging with and documenting the lives of Danubian migrants, we developed our anthropological ethnographic skills. This experience relied upon skills of active listening, attentiveness and patience. At first, some individuals may not be receptive to the idea of sharing their stories with us, which emphasized the importance of establishing trust and understanding.
As the mediator between the subject and our audience to whom we are presenting the story, we felt the responsibility to depict the subject as honestly and accurately as possible. These processes were supported by the techniques taught to us by Richard and Dieter. For example, thinking in terms of coherent scenes and the beginning, middle and ending of a story. Another insightful point raised by Richard is that it is essential to always have a reason/purpose behind the framing and angle. We found that this shaped the way in which we approached the tasks and were considering the effect that this would have on the final outputs. For example, the framing of the portrait, centred around the subject, reflected the complexity of her features.
Learning Deutsch with Tina offered us not only a practical introduction to the language, but also gave us cultural insight. This strengthens our belief that to truly engage with people from German-speaking regions, knowledge of their culture acts as a crucial foundation and stepping stone. “If you speak to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”—Mandela. Although we were not able to use our (quite limited) German skills this time, in the future, this will enable for us to engage in more intercultural interactions.
The lecture sessions acted as an introduction into the history, culture and language of the Danubian region. For some of us, it is the first time we came across the complexity of Roma/Jewish culture. In addition to being introduced to these intriguing historical aspects, we were also introduced to the literature. For example, the tragic life story of Hungarian poet Attila Jozsef, and his role as one of the pioneering cosmopolitan intellectual. Similarly, we were introduced to the boyash tale and language which we might not have encountered otherwise which once again enhances our understanding of it the cultures in the region.
Throughout these 2 weeks we became increasingly aware that the Danube is quite complex much like history itself. The many experiences we had and ideas we were exposed to helped to us to understand that in order to engage with citizens of the Danube and indeed other individuals it is central to demonstrate patience, love, and understanding.
– Verlina, Rhea, and Rita