“What do you think of us Europeans?” the question rang throughout the quiet room following the viewing of a documentary portraying Rania Mustafa Ali’s arduous and intense journey from Syria to Europe. Although the question may not have been asked in order to incite a negative response, its underlying tone carried the exact reason for which ‘Living Together’ exists. The different nationalities that make up the world are something to be celebrated but so often, the differences and stigmas are the focus of the narrative.
Rania left her home in Syria in 2016 and has since started working with Terres des Hommes, an organisation with the aim of ensuring rights and equitable development for children, on a project titled ‘Living Together’. Living together fosters the need to create friendships and to break barriers between the ‘migrant’ and the ‘national’. It is a project focused on the pivotal aspects to integration — the idea that one is more accepting and less prejudicial when they personally know someone from a different culture than theirs, a fact that is consistently proven by reports and surveys. Rania’s visit resonates (and always will) with me for many reasons, not the least of which being the poise and amiability of the way she carried herself and conducted every interview, but most importantly in the way she truly embodied the project by organically establishing a rapport with the people she came in contact with.
So many times we tend to focus on the differences between our respective nationalities rather than appreciating it all in order to best ‘live together’. Every time I was present for one of Rania’s interviews, it was obvious that the aspects of separation ceased to exist with every question she asked, whether it was with a young masters student who worked in refugee camps or a young adult finding her footing in the field or even with me and my friends, Rania always interacted with absolute warmth; the very root of her project. In order to solve the many issues facing us as a global community, we need to learn not just to work together but to live together in a way that bridges the various social intercultural differences while still appreciating the aspects that make us unique. More than ever before, this project is needed so that acceptance can prevail and that solutions to the ‘crisis’ at hand can be found.
Contribution by: Beth Sorel
(Photo: UNHCR/Tümer Gençtürk – Taken during the screening of the documentary organised by Kopin in collaboration with UNHCR Malta and the Sudanese Community)