Intercultural Dialogue for Sustainable Development

Throughout history, Egypt has always been a cultural hub, due to its geographic position, diverse nature, moderate climate and historical wealth. Major Egyptian cities such as Cairo and Alexandria were naturally  cosmopolitan cities. Nowadays, in the age of the Internet and globalization, communication became very simple and easy to handle by everyone. But are we able to truly communicate and understand each other especially when considering the strong effects that culture has on our way of  communicating?

Nana Woo leading the cultural dialogue at SEKEM and on the campus of Heliopolis University

This year Nana Woo, Social Eurythmy practitioner and community project integrator at SEKEM and Heliopolis University, took the initiative to open an Intercultural Dialogue to answer that question. For a week, about 20 participants got to experience in depth, in a regulated dialogue through different activities the wealth of knowing and communicating and exchanging with the other.

Although most of the participants came from Egypt, one could still see clearly the differences in culture and background according to the part of the country they were originated from . “The most value I gained from this experience was openness and acceptance. I finally could express my thoughts and emotions freely without the fear of being judged. And I also enjoyed getting to know some wonderful people who were only strangers a week ago,” expresses Heba Abdel-Razeq, Heliopolis University graduate and employee at SEKEM who participated in the event.

Around 20 participants came together for this year’s “intercultural Dialogue”

Within  a week, the participants of the Intercultural Dialogue had also the chance to  learn about SEKEM; they got to hear the story of SEKEM’s founder Ibrahim Abouleish, and met some of the first generation of his supporters such as Angela Hofmann, SEKEM’s agriculture coordinator, Konstanze Abouleish, commercial  manager of the company NatureTex for Organic cotton textiles, and Helmy Abouleish, the CEO of SEKEM who joined the group for some time to be a part of the dialogue.

The power of intercultural exchange to unfold potential

“We don’t really need to conclude an outcome. Our responsibility as educators is to allow the release of the beauty and power which lie within each individual… in Dr. Ibrahim’s words ‘Unfold Individual Potential’,” explains Nana. 

The Intercultural Dialogue participants going through interactive activities and applauding each other’s performances.

On the last day, all participants were requested to make a presentation of what they have experienced within the Intercultural Dialogue 2019 that was organized by SEKEM, Heliopolis University and the Center for Arab-West Understanding. They demonstrated their potential, talent and maturity as well as their concerns, challenges and frustrations. “We try to offer our knowledge, experience and guidance not knowing what will be the outcome, yet we keep on planting the seeds cause it only takes one growing to succeed,”  states Nana Woo. “The Intercultural Dialogue was inspiring and motivational to the participants and to us organizers as well. I think, we will continue to collaborate together. SEKEM has gained a few additions to its rich and diverse community, full of potential and motivation for a better exchange and understanding within Egypt and maybe the world.”

Nadine Greiss

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