By Soraya Boumediene, Intern at Crossing Borders
So, I tell my story to exist. I do this through my reflections on my first Food for Thought experience at Crossing Borders. Taking place on 6 October 2022 in Copenhagen and facilitated by Vice Chair of our board TV journalist Nyeleti Sue Angel Nkuna of South Africa, the Food for Thought brought a CEO of a top global corporation, just awarded Nobel Prize Laureate prof. Meldal, two ambassadors, one a Mandela family friend HE Maguba ambassador of South Africa, and the second HE Menabde ambassador of Georgia. The audience reflected the beautiful diversity of the globalization.
Here we go. I am Soraya from France and Morocco, two different but connected countries. I believe having two nationalities taught me to be really open to the world and it might be the reason why I have always been attracted to international relations! Indeed, I love discovering the world and everything it has to offer as well as meeting new people and talking to them about all kind of subjects such as current global issues and politics. I would also describe myself as a free spirit, open-minded, optimistic and committed. I feel particularly concerned with human rights issues, especially feminism, antiracism and ecology. On top of that, I am a new Erasmus + intern at Crossing Borders where I meet the world everyday. As soon as I arrived at the beginning of October 2022, Crossing Borders nature, activities and global outreach connected me to my own life story. Thus, my first Food for Thought experience gave a strong feeling of belonging to my background, experiences and interests. The 6 October Food for Thought event was also the first time it took place at our new location at Union cultural house, which I found really welcoming and warm. The cozy decoration, softened lights, curtains and candles food made me feel at my family’s house in France. But, this wasn’t the only thing that made me think about home…
The Food for Thought concept is to combine storytelling with dinner, two spaces bringing humans together. I like to read, write and listen to podcast and I was very excited about listening to someone’s story. I had the feeling I was listening to a family story before dinner, even though I barely knew anyone yet. I was very new to everything, and everything was new to me. The event brought together some 70 guests from many countries. As CB loves to grab every opportunity to celebrate diversity, to begin with, we were all asked to get up telling our names and where we came from. In addition to the 16 Georgians who participated in our Youth 4 Democracy course, almost everyone came from a different country: Denmark, Dominican Republic, Italy, Ghana, Estonia, Morocco, the USA, Sierra Leone. It was really amazing to have so many nationalities together at once! This moment brought me back to my previous Erasmus experience some years back when I studied in the UK and met people from each continent almost every day. My favorite thing to do in life is travelling and interacting with people from all over the world. In a way, Food for Thought was like another trip during which I met and talked to international citizens. I even met someone from the city where my family comes from in Morocco and felt so grateful about it! I never thought I would feel so at home while abroad in Denmark.
The guest was well known medical doctor specialized in immunology and oncology Deborah Dunsire. Dr. Dunsire started her life journey in Zimbabwe where she was born into a white family. Her parents moved to the then Apartheid South Africa where she studied medicine. She started to observe the odd structure of racism. This system was enacted into law by Apartheid which was built around a racialized pyramid with the tiny minority white citizens on the top, brown citizens under them while the vast majority black indigenous citizens at the very bottom. Dr. Dunsire has been the CEO of several companies in Switzerland, the US, and currently CEO of Lundbeck, a pharmaceutical company in Copenhagen. It was quite impressive to meet such an important person in such an intimate context. She introduced herself and humbly answered questions about her life, career and about the pressing global issues of the time. I found her really inspiring and her speech empowering. In some ways, her storytelling was a journey too for me. I
believe at Food for Thought you have a unique chance to meet people in a way you wouldn’t meet otherwise.
This event was also an opportunity for the Georgians youth workers and municipality representatives to meet the ambassador from Georgia to Denmark, HE Natela Menabde who attended the evening for the occasion. Some of the Georgian members couldn’t speak English very well but it didn’t stop them from sharing their gratitude, energy and joy to be there. Their joy was expressed in Georgian songs, wine and sweets. I had the feeling what really mattered at that point was being together regardless of our nationalities, languages or other differences. Another special guest to join the event was Professor Morten Meldal at the University of Copenhagen who just received a Nobel Prize in Chemistry, no less! It was as if Food for Thought brought together people from all walks of life and countries in an inclusive social space where everyone is on an equal foot. I guess that’s Food for Thought and Crossing Borders power!
We finally had delicious Lebanese food for dinner: humus, fried eggplants, and couscous, which once again made me think about when I used to visit my family in Morocco. In the end, this is maybe what this is all about: Food for Thought framed in storytelling, delicious food, great company and in a welcoming space do enable us to learn about life and one another’s experiences from around the world while echoing to your own story.