By Elizabeth Laskar
Our short visit of 6 days to visit our Initiatives of Change Romania colleagues and friends was joyful.
When the UK separated from the rest of Europe, it left a divide, a wound, a brokenness with individuals, communities and nations within the UK and Europe. The impact of Brexit has included restrictions on movement and the narratives of ‘othering’ through lack of understanding has been driving people apart. We have also seen the impacts of wars and climate change with people coming to seek safety and refuge in the UK.
In the Peace Circle programme we have seen people learn from each other’s experiences and work together to develop innovative solutions to common challenging narratives and situations. In a world where ‘othering’ is on the rise, cultural exchanges can help promote cross-cultural understanding and awareness, helping to break down stereotypes and prejudices that we see in us and our communities. It can help us move out of the unhelpful narrative of ‘othering’.
On this visit we were lucky to arrive during the Orthodox celebration of Pentecost, giving us a chance to learn about some of the unique customs and traditions of Romania. Within a few days we found ourselves gaining a deeper appreciation of our cultural diversity and our interconnectedness.
Next year our cultural exchange visit can lead to long-lasting personal connections and friendships and those relationships can create a sense of community, promote mutual understanding and respect that can last a lifetime – a good recipe for developing trust and peace making in the UK and beyond.
Initiatives of Change UK and Creators of Peace UK thank our hosts Diana Damsa and Diana Topan, Initiatives of Change Romania.
"We were deeply moved by our visit to Barsana Monastery, that is looked after by nuns and famous for its wooden buildings and traditional craftsmanship."
Treating our hosts to a home cooked vegan Punjabi meal. From left to right: Gabi Sebastyen, Diana Damsa, Miranda Shaw and Diana Topan.
Much loved traditional Romanian plum dumplings made by our hosts. Bread-crumbed potato dough with a plum centre. Eaten with a sprinkle of sugar.