By Eva Grosfeld from the Netherlands
July 28, 2015

We came together, from distinct directions. From the cold into the hot, from far to close, from the night into the day, from hours back to hours forward. We brought with us, our own background. Our nationalities, our local environment, our experiences, our knowledge, our talents, our thoughts, our feelings, our dreams and our worries. We came together and brought with us our personal and professional  interest and affiliation with the issues of pluralism, development and social change.  

The very first day of the Summer school, here in  IndonesImage of Pluralismia, Puncak, Pondok Remaja PGI, we shared our ideas by choosing a picture. These pictures showed people, environments and situations to which we could relate our concerns on either pluralism, development or social change. This resulted in a collection of powerful insights. From which I give some examples.

Issues of isolation
“ If we want to bring people together, we need to appreciate their differences. Appreciate their own local habitat, from which they gain their particular habits, customs, and knowledge. This is a condition to find a way to form cohesion.”(Liz, Kenya)

Children don’t see difference
“Children, as diverse in cultural backgrounds they may be, they all want the same. They want to play, and make fun with friends. They are pure, open and not yet aware of issues of diversity. Why do we lose this mentality?” (Susan, the Netherlands)

People shall share in the country’s wealth
“The redistribution of wealth is effective for the process of equalizing society. Equal access to opportunities, regardless of your religious, political or ethnic identity.” (Shreeradha, India)

Their voice should be heard
“…It is not about fighting for the existence of the minority group, but it is important to give them an adequate space to speak. To channel the voice of the minority, otherwise that voice would change into violence.” (Fikri, Indonesia)

Men rule the world
“Across the world globally, men take the highest positions when it comes to power and decision making. How should countries embrace this issue, to bring women in higher positions?” (Sokhela, South Africa)

What is development?
“The engagement of indigenous people with modern western technology, leads to destruction of traditional knowledge. Should western ideals be imposed on those groups when it doesn’t fit in their way of life? Who decides on development?” (Ameya, India)

We need the context
“The media shows stereotypes in their images without showing the context. This promotes prejudices. We should be better informed by the context before we judge.” (Haffiz, India)

Both rights fulfilled
“The African mother feeds her baby in the classroom. This represents that we should take both rights seriously: The rights of the child, to be safe, get good care and nutrition and the rights of the mother to get well educated, should go hand in hand.” (Anjali, India)

It is your business
“Women participate less in political elections than man, because they think the issues are not related to their daily activities. Women form the majority in Indonesia. We should give woman more access to information about political elections, and educate them to become more aware and well informed of political issues which are concerning their daily activities as well.” (Nisa, Indonesia)

It’s all about the looks
“In a plural society, a conflict is usually based on prejudices that come from physical performance.  When you change someone’s physical performance our thoughts about the person change as well. Instead of stigmatizing we should get to a deeper level of understanding.” (Halili, Indonesia)

We welcome asylum seekers
“In an ideal world, pluralism goes hand in hand with an open attitude, where different norms and values are tolerated, regardless of background, level of education or religion.” (Wieke, the Netherlands)

Use the old, and make something new
“Social change is like the art of recycling: it’s not about destroying what we have already used. It is about to use creativity to make something new from what is valuable, in a way that it fits to the current situation.” (Eva, the Netherlands)

These quotes, form a fruitful point of departure for our shared  journey, during these 18 days of Summer school.  Let’s see if we can get some directives  to these issues on Pluralism, development and social change. To end up with a bag full of stories, which we take home to our daily practice and serve the changes we want to make.

Eva Grosfeld (24), is a third year master student at the University for Humanistic Studies in Utrecht, the Netherlands. She focusses on Moral education and Citizenship, and the impact management of documentary films in questions on humanity and meaningful life.