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A lot, different and unpredictable | Intercultural sensitivity

Intercultural sensitivity comes with what we see. We need to be able to have the chance to get to know different cultural influences. There are not many places in our society where you have the possibility to encounter and get to know members from different social groups. It is difficult to create opportunities for intercultural encounters, where you are not preaching to the choir.

says Sonja Kovačević, who sat with us at Torgið to discuss intercultural sensitivity.  Sonja is studying to become a teacher and points out that within the school system, as within other institutions, you cannot presume that the different cultural influences will affect the institutions only by a more diverse society. Every fifth citizen of Reykjavík does not have Icelandic as a native language, but not all have the opportunity to influence the cultural life. Sonja says:

It is important that we and institutions know why diversity is important and intercultural sensitivity, why should we or institutions make an effort to include people with diverse backgrounds, experience and language skills in different positions within our societies? If not this is not clear, then there will be children growing up in this society with limited opportunities, because they do not see someone „like them“ occupying diverse social roles and vocations.

The artist and curator Wiola Ujazdowska also sat down with us and mentioned:

We need to work with numbers and statistics.

Wiola Ujazdowska recently opened a new exhibition Community of Sentient Beings, which she co-curated with Hubert Gromny. About her work as a curator she says:

I am constantly rethinking my own work methods and who´s voices are being heard in my projects, who hasn´t had the chance to shape the art sector?“ Who are artist working in Iceland that come from countries outside EFTA and EEA resprented? Are their works visible in our art spaces and preserved within the institutions? Statistics help us work our way through unclear concepts and developed actions. 

Sonja emphasizes on the importance of creating a venue where different groups meet and the knowledge and stories of each and everyone is heard and seen.

Perhaps the easiest way to connect people is through a topic, something we share an interest in. We meet in the things that we find fund, exiting and interesting – in the thinking we have in common.

Wiola also mentions:

We have to learn to take up space and go to places we haven´t been before.

By the end of the talk we all agreed that diversity cannot be represented in a single thing, one person or an exceptional exhibition or a special project, diversity needs a thread of continuity that is interwoven through all our work. We are closer to intercultural sensitivity and being affected by different cultural influences by creating a platform for:

A lot, different and unpredictable

Isn´t the library exactly the place for that?

We thank Sonja and Wiola for the chat and encourage our users to send us ideas for interesting topics they would like to discuss in the next open conversation on Torgið. Maybe we should just discuss Paris?


Further information on open conversations at Torgið:
Dögg Sigmarsdóttir | Project manager civic participation

UpdatedTuesday January 31st 2023, 16:50