Wednesday, May 25, 2011

In Brussels

I'm in the default EU capital for the annual gathering of the Platform for Intercultural Europe (which really does abbreviate to pie...). It's a two day event this year, so one overnight stay is unavoidable, though I still managed to make yesterday a very long one, getting up at 4 to catch the Eurostar and be here for 9.30 (and don't forget Belgium is an hour ahead!).

I sang for my supper in the morning, reporting back to the Platform on the Practice Exchange we hosted late last year. The report on the website is so exhaustive that I didn't have to go through everything that happened, but was able instead to talk about some of the key issues which emerged. The crucial one, which led to lots of discussion yesterday, was whether we could find a common language between people working in cross-cultural dialogue (be that in the arts, education or advocacy) and the politicians who increasingly conceived of "value" not in moral or cultural terms, but solely as something quantifiable and monetary.

The afternoon session was brilliantly done, with a series of discussions at tables around projects which members were developing in their own countries. I talked to an Italian trade unionist about his work to help Somali refugees into the labour market, a Jewish woman from Belgium about work with religious groups on gender and sexual orientation, and a woman from Cyprus who was doing cross-cultural theatre work in primary schools. There's clearly huge potential for future collaborations in this network.

No comments: