Communication between humans is an astonishingly complex thing. Even if two individuals have known each other for a long time and developed a deep understanding for each other, misunderstandings will happen. In real life, however, only a fraction of the people we interact with will be confidants. In many cases we know not more than some bullet points about another person, e.g., ‘Is a colleague’, ‘Has two children’ and ‘Likes the same football team’. In other situations we do not know another person at all, e.g., a cashier. Nevertheless, in most cases we can still find a connection to them. This is largely due to having similar cultural identities, i.e. the feeling of belonging to a community. The cultural identity is shaped by a lot of rather specific things like generation, social class or locality. However, there are also more widespread factors for cultural identity, e.g., speaking the same language or having cultural codes in common. A famous example for such a cultural code is the bow that is conventional in many Asian countries for greeting someone, instead of a handshake.
Communication between two strangers gets more difficult the further away their cultural identities are. Hence, times in which a large quantity of individuals migrate into a different cultural zone bear the potential for a lot of communication problems, and ultimately a split society.
This workshop centered around Migration & Refugees aims at building up empathy for involved parties, raising awareness for the hardships refugees have to face, illustrating possibilities to make contact even if the cultural codes are rather divergent, and highlighting the similarities human beings share regardless of cultural identity.