FEATURE: Global Migration–More Than The Birds

HofburgFounder and Board Chair Susan Weeks Coulter traveled to Vienna this past week to take part in the UNAOC panel on media and intercultural dialogue…
Vienna rolled out the red carpet last week to welcome and to host The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations 5th annual conference. Delegates from nearly 150 nations filed into their assigned seats in alphabetical order, in the main ballroom of The Hofburg (the Imperial Palace of the Habsburgs until 1918); it was a thrilling sight and the resulting energy was palpable.
Migration is the word used to describe the phenomenon that is creating economic, social and cultural impact or conflict in many parts of the world, and has been a topic of conversation on the global stage for a number of years. In the conference’s Key Note speech, Professor Tu Weiming (Beijing University) cited that during the past twenty years, more than 200 million Chinese people have migrated out of the countryside and into cities for work. In Africa, populations have moved regularly in search of food, water, or to avoid dangerous civil strife. Currently in the United States, hundreds of workers have moved into small towns in the state of North Dakota in search of oil-related work–overwhelming schools, housing, medical facilities and food supplies by their sheer numbers. What if they also all spoke a different language?

An entrepreneurial┬ásocial enterprise like The Global Film Initiative, being in the presence of hundreds of policy makers was certainly an unusual experience. However, the evening before the opening session, The Intercultural Innovation Awards Ceremony made it clear that grassroots organizations are not waiting for the policy makers to begin to address some of the ensuing issues. Sponsored by BMW (kudos to them for their forward-looking social policy and investment), ten finalists in Intercultural Innovation were announced. Projects ranged from KI Volunteers, an organization that recruits and places Muslim men and women volunteers in non-Muslim communities in Mindanao, Philippines, to the project winner, Puerta Joven (Mexico)–young filmmakers, using simple technology ┬áto maintain and support indigenous identities, even within an urban context.

Check out what’s been happening around the world; it may give you a program partner or an idea that can be replicated in your own community. A Migration of Ideas can help us all create a global network, focused on our similarities, rather than on our differences.
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