Rhythms, colors and perspectives

By Camille Saade, English translation Nazir Sunderji, traducción española Jennifer Casado Gomez-Shallti
06 April 2013

During the week of March 18 to 24, 2013, ICV participated in "Plainpalais, Diverse Perspectives" as part of the Week against Racism. Alongside various local institutions and associations working with migrants, ICV helped raise awareness about the feeling of rejection faced by a number of foreigners in Switzerland, particularly in Geneva. Centred around the theme "Migrants’ Perspectives of Geneva and its people“, the goal of this week was to give a voice to these migrants and to encourage exchange, through various media, including speech, movies and music.

There was a festive and friendly atmosphere on Saturday, 23 March 2013 in the early afternoon around Plainpalais. A number of people from diverse backgrounds began to gather, while  mint tea and coffee were prepared in two colorful tents  for curious passers by, wandering through the streets on this early spring day. Was it the beginning of an event? No, it was the preparation of the final day of 'Plainpalais, Diverse Perspectives'.

Everything began on Tuesday, 19 March 2013. 'Plainpalais, Diverse Perspectives’  was launched at The arcade of the Haute Ecole de Travail Social. While soups of the world from Iran, South America and elsewhere were served, participants could discover two sets of short films made by migrants themselves. The first series, a collaboration between the HETS, the Centre de formation pour migrants de la Roseraie and the VisaGenèveAssociation featured several portraits of migrants. Produced by Sara Ervis, Roberto, Mamadou, Hanif, Toni and many others, they offer us, in their own way and in a different style, perceptions and vision of life in Geneva and it’s peculiarities, with a healthy touch of humor. Ranging from lighter topics such as the sense of admiration for the Swiss organization, the purity of Lake Geneva, to more difficult topics, such as stigma or rejection which these people were facing. Following the screening, some of the protagonists of the films had the opportunity to present their perspectives and answer questions from participants around the theme of immigration.

The program continued on Thursday, 21 March 2013 at the Rose Garden Center, with the offering of free French courses for immigrants. Once again, the migrants were put to work – they presented a theater / forum workshop on the themes of welcoming and hospitality. The principle of the theater forum was to present a short skit on a social issue and, after a discussion forum with the public, incorporate the views and ideas generated during the debate in the final presentation of the skit.. Thus  participants from the Center as well as their team members each played a role and presented three small pieces of about ten minutes each, representing real-life situations. One of them, the most significant, showed the difficulties in a fictional interview, reflecting challenges resulting from language barriers, the non-recognition of diplomas or poor pay. Again, the public participated actively and took up the cause of some of the actors, and to change --at least in this fiction-- the outcome of these discussions.

The week continued in a friendly atmosphere in the afternoon of 23 March 2013. Around the Plainpalais roundabout, short films were shown, and the Member Pluriels association, a psychological counseling center for migrants, served tea and coffee, defying the gloom of a March Saturday. Again, the goal was to provide a space for dialogue and discussion, but this time in the street, giving free course to meetings and exchanges. Two hours later, it was time to fold the tents and redeploy them at the place des Augustins. A joyful procession then moved along Rue de Carouge before settling for the second act of the day. While the tents were put back in place, musicians of the group Gypson Five were doing the final sound checks at the ICV Arcade for the highlight of the day; a musical extraveganza. Diversity was again at the center, starting with Gypson Five, composed of musicians from Eastern Europe and North Africa. Once participants arrived at the Arcade, the concert began. The combination of Eastern and Balkan rhythms and sounds attracted a large crowd that demanded more, and the concert, scheduled for an hour, extended to over two hours, bringing to an end, in a perfect way, the “Plainpalais Action Week Against Racism”.

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