We were 22 delegates and 5 staff from 10 different countries: Brazil (living in Canada), China (living in Australia), Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and United States. That normally means 10 cultural activities, but Norway and Sweden combined their countries (since “they are similar”) so we had nine.
It was an educational whirlwind! The IPP theme was ‘Spaces of Expression’, so in keeping with that we discussed censorship, street art, political campaigns, urban renewal, public parks, songwriting, language and visual histories within our local contexts. We learned about nature paintings in Finland, political cartoons and mermaids in Denmark, social issue posters in New York, a recycled airport turned into public space in Berlin, a library and tram in Medellin, totems in Canada, political manifestos in Norway, and of course revolutionary graffiti and educational censorship in Egypt.
Since the philosophy of CISV is one of experiential learning, each cultural activity consisted of a creative hands-on project in addition to the group discussions. This was a really fun way to learn about the topic, and sometimes difficult. For the U.S. cultural activity, I presented slides of social issue posters that were focused on the United States, many of them simple, bold and outright funny. These posters are way to subvert advertizing or turn it around on itself. One U.S. artist secretly creates them overtop of the original billboard ads. I then asked the delegates to work in groups, discuss the issues that were of particular interest to them, and to select one to make into a large poster using magazines as collage materials. A few delegates told me afterwards that it was hard for them. I was impressed with the seriousness of the groups’ work and the final outcome. Here are some of the bold statements they created:
“Mom, can I have a hug?” “Sure, honey, I’ll add that to the shopping list.”
Forget Gender, Remember Humanity
Think Before ….
The activities varied in approach, as well as topics. With some focused on discussion of contrevertial issues, some recreating replicas of home projects while others used the group’s creativity to create a joint art work. These ten activities were an integral part of the IPP, as they allowed participants to not only explore ‘Spaces of Expression’ through the Alexandrian reality, but through 10 other ones as well.
By Julie Harrison, USA