What does community mean in this intercultural first night and project?
From this first task a group of students gathered to create the basis of a community project. One goal was familiar to everyone: to survive the night pleasantly, staging the hotel stay with the most basic amenities. Beyond the cultural barrier, interaction was the only way to make it happen. Interacting with each other, interacting with the neighbours, interacting with the place itself.
Composed of a group of students from diverse cultural and disciplinary backgrounds was the foundation for realizing a project that could be the starting point for a program of what the migration researcher Mark Terkessidis has called a program of “Interkultur “. 1 In his critique of German integration discourse, his concept of intercultural becomes about life in an ambiguous condition and the crafting of an unclear future. He argues that it is not about merely respecting existing or implied differences between cultures. Rather it is about establishing new ties and relationships.
Interaction & Craft
During this first overnight, exploring the second skin, objects were brought by each participant, to craft the setting of the night for the comfort of the participants, while taking into consideration to be a good neighbour. This effort can be seen as a desire to favour interactions.
The crafting then became the other part of this community night. People had to approach each other to achieve the project and people had to build something to create the possibility of an inviting community project. People interact with each other to craft the camp, and the crafting makes interaction. In other words, a comfortable atmosphere in the setting, and between people crafts interaction. An exchange that surpasses the language and cultural barrier by way of people caring for each other.
During Take 1 the urgency of the situation influenced the decision making. Most planned events gave way to improvisation - for the kitchen crew, the planned recipe was adjusted to fit the ingredients found. The site group found another spot for sleeping, and the neighbourhood group learned to respond to youngsters' shouting, rather than welcoming friendly neighbours.
It suddenly appeared that one doesn’t stay there only as an observer but that everyone has to jump in and find a way to become an active participant who can catch the instant that makes oneself and the entire project move.
To make the evening enjoyable, especially in a new context with so many unknown factors, breaking your boundaries is the only way to move towards the goal. It then becomes a matter of attitude. Being together and organizing an inviting night, making sure that everyone has the minimum comfort might have been the trigger.
If the skin is the protective surface for your body, is the second skin the shelter protecting multiple bodies? In this context of a community project, the second skin might have been this behaviour of taking care of each other for making things alright. "Community" could possibly mean the second skin with which we protect each other.
- Terkessidis, Mark, 2010: Interkultur. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. P. 10 ↩