Food For Thought with Marek Azoulay Jørgensen Leave a Comment / ALF On the 3rd of August 2023 the Danish Anna Lindh Network organised a very inspiring Food for Thought talk with Marek Azoulay Jørgensen. Marek is a consultant at Deloitte, youth leader and inclusion activist with multicultural background. Thus, his lively talk focused on inclusion, diversity and democracy in our society. The participants, 30 in number, were also very diverse in terms of culture, age, disability and gender. In addition to ALF Danish members, there were people from Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire, Denmark, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, France, Sierraleone, South Africa, Turkey, Switzerland, Uganda, Ukraine, etc. The event was moderated by CB board Vice Chair Nyeleti Nkuna. During this wonderful evening, Marek started his talk by telling us about his childhood and teenage years which have played an important part in his journey. Marek was born in Copenhagen by Moroccan/French mother and Danish father. He was a very shy boy and labelled as the “Moroccan kid” at school. Later on, he learnt that he was Jew and wanted to know more about the Jewish culture & religion and embrace his heritage. So now, he was also the “Jew kid”. At this time, Marek was still just a child and didn’t really understand what all the fuss, especially the implication of being part of a minority. But the other kids made him feel that way with silly jokes and teasing. Then, during his teenage years, Marek started to assert himself and wasn’t the shy boy anymore. He became hyperactive and took a leading role in high school associations and got interested in debate and youth engagement. It was at that time Marek started to wonder about his sexuality. It took him time to realise that he was gay and out of fear he decided to hide it from everyone, family and friends. The lack of representation at this time was a huge challenge. It was hard for young people to relate to people who lived the same struggle and to feel confident in their own skin. That is why, when he did his coming out later on, he created a LGBTQIA+ association to help build a community and support people within this community on their journey. Marek continued his talk by telling us about his personal and professional engagements. He is a board member at Nyt Europa, a non-profit organisation that works for a sustainable and democratic EU. He is also a project coordinator at Fashion Revolution, the world largest fashion activist movement. And he is delegate at Ungdoms Bureauet, a non-profit organisation dedicated to empowering youth engagement and influence in societal matters. Marek is also a co-founder of Mino, an interest organisation that works to strengthen the opportunities, voices and community participation of ethnic youth minority Danes, and at DUF (Danish Youth Council) an umbrella organisation representing all youth associations in Denmark that promotes youth participation in public affairs. Regarding his activism and engagement, Marek also tries to include it into his professional environment within the company Deloitte where he is a Transformation Leadership Consultant. Marek is convinced that it is possible to work in the business sector and still be an activist. According to him, we should not put in opposition these two stakeholders. Private sector and NGO or citizens should work hand in hand for a better society, especially by using and fostering dialogue. And to answer the question asked by Giselle Mesiara, Project Coordinator at Crossing Borders and Global Activist: “How can we make these two worlds, private sector and NGO, meet and bridge the gap between them?”, Marek assures that people are the solution to do that. We need people who are interested in crossing paths, changing directions and bringing all their experiences, convictions and engagements with them. Overall, Marek’s journey and commitment demonstrate the importance of creating a more inclusive, diverse, and sustainable society through youth involvement and open dialogue. Marek’s efforts align with the goals of the Anna Lindh Foundation, international and inter-governmental organisation of which Crossing Borders is the Head of Network in Danmark, which promotes a culture based on intercultural dialogue, exchange and cooperation between people. That is what Food for Thought is all about, bring people together, allow them to share their stories and foster dialogue between people and culture. The discussion went on during the delicious dinner prepared by Claudia from Brazil.