We often forget that we are all human beings

by Elena Chalari & Nadir Noori

Includmedia Lab, our new training course at Solomon, brings together people from different backgrounds and countries of origin. Our first session began at Impact Hub Athens, where our team met with the members of the Lab to create working pairs and get started. And as most of us have experienced similar situations, we were nervous about the initial meeting and anxious about this new cooperation.

However, the communication barriers were overcome with the use of creative team-building activities, run by Olivia Kiriakidou, professor at the Athens University of Economics and Business. Through these activities, the team had to brainstorm to create three items (of practical and symbolic value) which reflect some social aspect.

One of the items a team came up with was a doll called “Simona Solomona” which was handmade using various materials to demonstrate that diversity can be — and is — beautiful.

Elena, one of the team members who created the doll, comes from Iran and spoke to us about how the doll was created, its symbolism and its message about differences and equality. She stressed the need for children to understand the concept of accepting differences:

“As a group made up of people from various backgrounds, cultures and countries of origin, we decided to create something which shows that people have different elements which may define us, but despite our differences it doesn’t mean we are unequal. We are all different, but this shouldn’t be a reason that divides us. We had various materials and fabrics to work with, and we combined these things to create a beautiful result. Each element used to create the doll represents something to everyone in the group. For example, the hand which has a darker shade can represent skin color or different religious beliefs… all these various elements exist in the doll, and this is a doll for all children.”

Nonna, (who hails from Belarus), one of the team members who helped create Simona Solomona, gave us food for thought — she spoke about equality and respect — elements that are included in the creation of the doll and she raised the issue of how to be aware of these issues in our everyday lives.

Inequality and discrimination stem from the idea that “we often forget that we are all human beings.” Usually, we speak and act without thinking about the effect our words and actions have on others, or if we hurt someone’s feelings or cause them to feel awkward.

To change this, Nonna suggests that when we are speaking to someone, we should try to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes — and try to imagine how that person might feel. By doing this, we might realize that a word or a phrase meant to be a joke or just “silly teasing” could be perceived by the other person as an insult coming from a place of negative thoughts and feelings, and result in perpetuating social stigmas and marginalization.

Keeping all this in mind, we can underline the fact that even just a tangible and “peculiar” item, like Simona — a simple rag doll — has the ability to make us reflect on vital social issues which pertain to our everyday lives.

The original story was written for Inclumedia Lab & published at solomon.gr (20/02/17).

Photo Credits: Solomon