What does community mean in this intercultural first night and project?
From this first task a group of student gathered in order to create the basis of a community project. One goal was common to everyone, and that was to survive the night in a pleasant manner, staging the hotel stay with the most basic ammenities. Beyond the cultural barrier interaction was the only way to make it happen. Interacting with each other, interacting with the neighbors, interacting with the place itself.
Composed of a group of students coming from diverse cultural and disciplinary backgrounds was the foundation for realizing a project which 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 intekultural becomes about life in an ambigious condition and the crafting of an unclear future. He argues that it is not about simply 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, in order to craft the setting of the night for the comfort of the participants, while taking into consideration to be a good neighbor. This effort can be seen as a desire of favor 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 actually build something to create the possibility of an inviting community project. People interact with each other to craft the camp, and the crafting creates interaction. In other words, a comfortable atmosphere in the setting, and between people crafts interaction. An interaction 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 which were found, the site group found another spot for sleeping and the neighborhood group learned to repsond to the shouting of youngsters, rather than welcoming friendly neighbors.
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 able to catch the instant which makes oneself and the entire project move.
In order 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 trying to organise 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 ↩