Cultural exchange and the art of challenging prejudices
Encounters between individuals from different part of the world are always challenging. Persons you may be inclined to know from the media often prove to be different when met face to face and exactly this is why it is worth while to support any initiative making it possible for people from different parts of the world to meet each other.
Personal encounters often leave a positive and warm impression, and I have met many who for the rest of their life will talk positively about individuals they happened to meet and who will be willing to extend the positive impressions to all other individuals from the same country or the same region.
Positive personal encounter(s) may challenge prejudices very effectively, but one domain has a challenging power greater and more powerful than any personal encounter as it very often will be able to challenge traditional and historically inherited misconceptions more effectively. Cultural encounters will often be able to challenge the participants and the viewers and if the artists involved are good artist be they musicians, dancers, actors, poets or whatever they will be able to surprise the viewers and transform him or her from a specific citizen to a human being. And if the viewer is open minded and curious he or she perceive the cultural performance with open minds and recognize the humanity of the artists performing as being in line with the humanity the viewer has inside himself or herself.
Careful prepared and well organized cultural encounters are accordingly in high demand in a globalizing world where many are happy to support a negative view of the other. Well organized and planned cultural encounters have the power to challenge historically constructed misperceptions because the artists acting will convey a human message inviting the viewer to recognize the humanity embedded in the artists. In this way sustainable bridges across cultures and religions can be established that will endure.