Diversity & Inclusion: An American Living in EuropeSep 01, 2021
As an Asian-American living in Denmark/Europe, one fun thing is that I have many opportunities for different forms of cross-cultural collaboration. Whether that is my interactions with Danes in my daily life or with other Europeans when I travel around Europe. I also get to attend different events that are related to diversity, inclusion, and integration.
In mid-July, I had the privilege to represent the Danish team to attend a weekend event called “Art & Diversity Festival,” organized by the Open European Societies, that was held in Dresden, Germany. In this article, I would like to share some of my takeaways and insights on the current progress of Diversity and Inclusion in the European Union.
What is Open European Societies (OES)?
OES is an EU-funded program that “brings together 8 countries and 12 partners, all committed to supporting migrant and refugee integration, community development, tackling xenophobia, discrimination and Hate Speech.” (Source: OES)
What is the purpose of OES?
The goal is to “eradicate the stigmatization of migrants and refugees, by helping the communities of the participating countries to overcome stereotypes and by developing counter-narratives through video campaigns and video recorded stories of third-country nationals that give more accurate insights into their situations and experiences.” (Source: OES)
What did I do in Dresden, Germany?
My time in Dresden was mainly to attend one of the four transnational events that stimulate “intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding by involving native citizens, third-country nationals and representatives of the partner organizations in a series of cultural, art and digital media activities that encourage reflection, dialogue, creativity and cultural exchange.”
Over the 3-day weekend, we attended the “Art and Diversity” festival that included different eye-opening activities such as live art performances, live painting shows, film screenings, music concerts, and more. It was a great opportunity to network with like-minded attendees who love creativity and want to be part of making Europe a more diverse and inclusive place for all residents.
OES has generously arranged our accommodations at a beautiful Mexican-themed guesthouse, as well as delicious meals at local Vietnamese, Lebanese, and German restaurants. We also had time to sightsee a bit and witness the vibrant, multicultural scenes in Dresden.
My favorite moments at the event
During our research presentation, we got to hear the local events and research in our eight participating countries over the last 3 years. I was particularly impressed by our Greek partner, who brought together two groups of Greek and refugee young children to break down barriers and build friendships.
Yes – children can very much be influenced by different (mis)conceptions about foreigners through their parents or society from a young age. The D&I work should start there.
We also got to see the final videos of interviews with different migrants or refugees in the eight countries, telling their experiences of otherness, exclusion, racism, and integration. As a person of color myself living in Denmark, a country that is 96% “white,” in the last four years, I could sympathize with some of the experiences that were shared.
Sometimes, it is frustrating to be treated unequally just because of our skin color, nationality, or religion. At the same time, I am even more grateful that programs like OES are making so much effort to bridge the gap and tackle the problems that are not only growing in Europe but also in America and the rest of the world.
My hope for D&I in the EU and the US
My role in this event as an American (but Danish resident) representing the Danish team has been interesting. In fact, one of the Czech team representatives was also a French person living in the Czech Republic. This, to me, beautifully shows that we truly live in a global world that allows high mobility among different nations. We are no longer (and should not be) defined by our nationality or ethnicity.
Overall, one of the most valuable experiences in this event was that I got to share my unique perspective and compare the D&I work in both the EU and the US with other partners. Even though 3CP is not affiliated with the OES, our work at 3CP to help organizations and individuals build diverse, equitable, and inclusive communities through Cultural Intelligence, is very much relevant to this OES project.
In the end, our goal is the more or less same — to build Third Culture People, who can act as an ambassador and bridge across different races and cultures. There are always rooms to learn from one another. As the Olympic 2020 has just begun in Tokyo, it is a good reminder that we are all different but “united by emotion” (Tokyo 2020 motto).
More highlights from the events
I was one of the 25 participants of the video campaign in 2019 (from 0:35).
If you are curious to know more about the Open European Societies project, visit their homepage at:
Author: Pricilla Cheung
3CP Digital Marketing & Communications Manager
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