In April the Mapamundi project by the Youth Section Team traveled to Japan to host a workshop during the Social Initiative Forum – a 5 day conference exploring Empathy as a tool for building bridges across cultures, nationalities and languages.
More than 300 people attended the event, which was a true intergenerational experience with participants ranging from 15 year-old students all the way up to 80 year-old artists. Attendees included teachers, students, social workers, professors, economists, scientists and artists from Japan, Thailand, Germany, South Africa, Korea and Brazil.
During the Mapamundi session we explored the complexity of human identity by asking participants to think about the following aspects and how they interplay and affect our identity:
- The Given context: geographical place of birth, gender, local community and culture, language(s), family situation, education, …
- The Chosen context: groups or movements joined out of one’s own impulse such as religious groups, political parties, social clubs, profession, vocation, partnerships and other relationships …
- Our Individuality: how can we discern that which is unique in each of us, independently of the above contexts? Think of free choices you made that made a big impact in your biography.
Afterwards we participated in an Empathy Walk, where we dug deeper into the question of identity, nationality and context through the question: what brought me here today and what role did my background play in me choosing to be here?
Exercising different levels of listening, we were able to think about our past experiences and how they shape our present and futures. We also observed ourselves in the process of connecting with another person that we had not yet had any contact with; is there a tendency toward prejudice in us? Am I listening to confirm previous opinions and ideas? How open can I be to receiving new information? What happens to me when I discover something new that I wasn’t expecting?
We look forward to continue looking at these questions in the next Mapamundi sessions at the Youth Section House (dates to be confirmed on our Facebook page) as well as our workshop during the Alma Humana conference at the Goetheanum from the 7th – 11th July 2018.
To register for the conference visit: www.goetheanum.org
Juan Bottero and Andrea De La Cruz Barral, half of the Youth Section at the Goetheanum team.