Crossing Borders

Let’s accept the harsh reality!! – by Pareeksha Chadaga Karanth

I was once driving down a highway on my own and my cell phone was out of battery. After a while, the engine of my car began to sputter and eventually came to a halt. I checked that there was still fuel in the car. So, I tried turning on the ignition a couple of times in the hope that the car would start. But it didn’t. I had no idea where the nearest petrol station was, I hadn’t seen a car go by since I stopped and I didn’t know how much longer it would be until the sun went down and it became dark. But, I sat in the car and kept turning the ignition on again and again in the hope that the car would start and allow me to go on. We all know that in a situation like that, we try the ignition a couple of times, and if it doesn’t work, accept the fact that something is wrong with the engine and try different ways to fix it. And in the worst case, if we are unable to make any difference under the hood, throw in the towel and leave the car behind and hitch a ride or walk to the nearest place with a mechanic. When stuck in situations like the metaphorical broken car, we tend to keep turning the key hoping to get out of the situation we are in and fail to accept that something is broken and needs fixing. This could be for a host of reasons — we don’t want to accept that we made a bad decision, we don’t want others to come back and tell us “We told you so”, we don’t want to face the reality of having to start all over again from scratch, we don’t want to tell ourselves that all the effort that we have invested in it so far is a total waste. But sitting there and waiting for the car to start is only prolonging this realization and the eventual fix. We can lie to ourselves all we want and feel good and optimistic about it for a relatively short period of time, but eventually, we have to find a way to move forward once the sun goes down. Accepting painful truths about ourselves is what helps us make significant transformational changes. Only then can we hope to get better! Written by: Pareeksha Chadaga Karanth Crossing Borders Admin & HR Coordinator

Let’s accept the harsh reality!! – by Pareeksha Chadaga Karanth Read More »

The Power of Behavioural Change – By Mariano A. Davies

Will we see a “new normal” after COVID-19? History has shown that behavioural change, when a majority of people within a culture recognise a positive need for change, will cause effective changes to take place and often remarkably quickly. In comparison, for example, dictatorship and the fear of reprisal can secure behavioural change such as accepting that only one political view is correct or what dress codes are permissible and which are not. However, in such cases, once the controlling element has been removed, it is very unlikely that such change will be lasting. The oppressed society will tend to revert to a form of diversity that was normal before the oppression. I would argue that this tends not to be the case when behavioural change is driven from within as opposed to the force of external law or dictatorship. For example, when Sweden became an extremely anti-smoking nation and its Government also limited many other individual rights, a Danish journalist, Mogens Berendt, in 1982 wrote a much-discussed article “Luk Sverige” (Close Sweden) in Berlingske Tidende, and followed up with a book called “Tilfældet Sverige” (The Swedish Way) – a book that painted a picture of an extremely authoritarian and somewhat dictatorial Swedish Government.  Danes at first seemed in general to put this all down to Swedish authoritarianism. However, not too many years later, Danish society began a very serious public debate about the health dangers of smoking for both smokers and non-smokers (passive smoking). Today, the result of this behavioural change has been widespread acceptance of the rules and regulations that followed in the wake of this health discussion – even among smokers, who have been forced to accept a smoking ban in most public areas, where it had been customary to accept smoking. Yes, not all smokers are impressed with the social stigma that smoking has become, but they are nevertheless driven to accept that “Danish society” has evolved into a “new normal” with new written and unwritten rules about smoking. Not long ago, smoking in Denmark was an integral part of accepted cultural behaviour. Smoking was normal behaviour in the street, in public buildings, in cars and in planes. One could even go as far as saying that smoking was a generally accepted social habit giving status. Now, cigarette packets and cigar boxes carry very clear health warnings, and, in some countries like Denmark, they are no longer visible in shops – they are hidden in draws or behind curtains. The power and effectiveness of this “new normal” has been that the changed behaviour came from within. The rules and regulations came as a result of a behavioural change. Post COVID-19, in potentially 18-24 months’ time, we may well see new examples of such “new normal” behavioural changes, where the public debate about this pandemic (especially within social media) will evolve into new behavioural changes. Perhaps this evolution will be exacerbated by this being a massive wake up call to the dangers of biological threats. For example, although global travel is cheaper than ever before, I expect that very many will think twice about where they travel, how far they travel and how they travel. As a behavioural reaction to COVID-19, we could see a dramatic fall in travel and a significant increase in the use of the many of the digital communication tools available. Just six months ago, could we seriously have imagined that a majority of commercial planes globally would be grounded for an unknown period of time, that countries would close their air space, that borders would be closed globally and that everyone would be sent home for a significant period of time as a protection against a deadly virus. My prediction is that this “perfect storm” crisis will result in new long-term behavioural patterns. I predict that it will have a social and economic impact that none of us can imagine with massive changes in global travel, global production and social interaction. People will err on the side of caution and those that don’t will risk paying a heavy price for blindly ignoring that this may be a game changing “new normal” with new behavioural challenges.  Republished with permission, this article was first published by the author on 8 April 2020 on his LinkedIn page

The Power of Behavioural Change – By Mariano A. Davies Read More »

Repatriation in the Absence of a State? Ten Thousand Lebanese Are Coming Home to ‘Stay Home’ – By Jasmin Lilian Diab, ABD – MENA Regional Focal Point on Migration, United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth

Was it necessary from the appearance of the first case of Coronavirus in Lebanon to suspend flights from Iran or to protect the vulnerabilities of Hezbollah? Give the reins to the army? Count on the civic spirit of the Lebanese people? Was it necessary to preserve access to care? Or was it pivotal to prioritize the need to eat? Around the world, States are faced with delicate trade-offs between health risks and political-economic imperatives, to which particular dimensions and sensitivities are added in Lebanon. A sectarian/political dimension, which raises fundamental questions about public service, national interest, and community-driven imperatives is also a firm reality. In other words, how does the Diab government decide, and according to what criteria? In most Western Countries, the answer is simple: the state acts in the name of the general interest, and in service of where it derives its legitimacy from its people. But when the state is deeply rooted in Confessionalism, and therefore in the defense of sectarian interests, citizens are faced with the delicate task of questioning the merits of the decisions taken by its representatives. Especially when the system in place, which is deeply clientelist, has led the country into the financial abyss which amplifies the health crisis and complicates its management. How do you import medical supplies when you run out of US dollars? How do you equip public hospitals when you have spent years gradually sucking them dry? How do you protect the most disadvantaged when government reserves are emptied? How do you ask for international aid when you are unable to aid yourself?   And at one of the most critical stages in our country’s history, all the state has found to do is ask the Lebanese to be what they have never been (and what they have never been requested to be): united – while politicians strengthen their grip on an increasingly destitute population. The pandemic is provoking reflections all over the world on the economic model, public policy priorities, and the role of the state. And amidst these debates, Lebanon is currently confronted with yet another major obstacle towards the annihilation of this epidemic: the 10,000 Lebanese expected to fly back to Lebanon between April 5 and 12, 2020. The plan for the repatriation of Lebanese from abroad who wished to return was adopted during the March 31, 2020 meeting of the Council of Ministers. According to ministerial sources, the adopted plan will be implemented in two phases. The first will take place from April 5 to 12, 2020 and the second from April 27 to May 4, 2020. The idea is, therefore, to carry out the first phase, to wait two weeks to study the curve of the epidemic and then to fill in any gaps. The plan is designed to allow those who wish to return home to do so without endangering the lives of residents in Lebanon. For this purpose, everything from screening and testing before the flight, to isolating infected individuals in separate planes has been taken into account. As the treasury is practically empty, the return journeys will be made at the passengers’ expense. Banks have subsequently been asked to facilitate transfers. On a more positive note, difficult times have proven time and time again that the Lebanese people are willing to step in when the government does not. In a true surge of solidarity, Lebanese living abroad have offered to help those who cannot afford their tickets according to multiple media sources. The fundamental obstacle toward the containment of the virus is, however, not how these Lebanese return but rather, the risk that Lebanese returnees will not strictly comply with the instructions they are given. The plan provides for medical monitoring by hospitals, under the supervision of the Ministry of Health, to verify that the confinement instructions are followed, knowing that the Lebanese may be ‘unruly.’ This was also the reason why, without ever questioning the right of Lebanese who are abroad to return to the country, the government had reservations about massive repatriation initially. For the management of this crisis, it had planned a two-step plan: firstly closing the land, air and sea borders to passengers for two weeks to put an end to the contamination from a ‘foreign source.’ And secondly, the two-week extension of general mobilization and that of strict containment measures to make it possible to limit the spread of the virus and to flatten the curve of the number of people affected by it. Although the plan initially seemed rigid, Lebanon’s Prime Minister has had to step back from his initial stance to prevent repatriation until April 12th due to political pressures – once more proving that Lebanon is not geared by a state, but rather geared by fragmentation of political will. At this point, as it has been proven time and time again, we can only hope the Lebanese returnees will care enough about those who never left to take on the necessary precautions and be honest. As the state believes it can unrealistically ‘contain’ the massive influx of people returning to their homes to be on lockdown with the rest of us all we have once more, is each other watching each other’s’ backs, and washing each other’s’ hands.. Jasmin Lilian Diab MENA Regional Focal Point on Migration, United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth

Repatriation in the Absence of a State? Ten Thousand Lebanese Are Coming Home to ‘Stay Home’ – By Jasmin Lilian Diab, ABD – MENA Regional Focal Point on Migration, United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth Read More »

Global Reset – A Call to Standing Together – By Helene Guldborg

While the coronavirus epidemic is putting our lives in turmoil across the world and turning our societies unrecognizable overnight with limited mobility; empty streets, schools, and airports; lockdown of countries; restrictions on our social pursuits and freedoms and militant directives on social distancing in order to urgently diminish its spread, it might just also provide a necessary reset and (ironically) connect us closer together. Infusing Interconnectedness The coronavirus is affecting us across continents, borders, ethnicity, skin color, gender, and income levels – it does not discriminate or favorize, and social status or privilege will not set anyone free. We are not only equal in the risk to be affected, but we are also bound together in our interconnectedness, depending on the action and responsibility of each other. Additionally, wherever we look across the world right now, the coronavirus grounds are common – the interruptive avalanche on our socioeconomic lives are similar, the protective and preventive measurements taken are similar, and the fear, anxiety, overwhelm, and uncertainty we experience is similar – it brings us all in the same boat – we can relate to each other and find compassion for each other from our own present reality. Standing Together We are all in this together and we will only win if we stand and come together. The coronavirus is demanding us to pause and to reset our lives as we know them – and to stand tighter together, whether as a family, neighborhood, country or global community. What if the coronavirus is a call to reset our lives and come back to what truly matters to us? What if it calls on us to see ourselves, each other and our world with new eyes? What if it is a call on us to be, come and stand stronger and better together? What if it is a call on radical compassion for each other across the world, reminding us that in fact, we are equal in our common humanity? While the turmoil of our everyday lives is real, equal to the deep uncertainty and overwhelming fear we might be experiencing, take a moment to reflect upon what the coronavirus reset came to teach you. Reset our Compassion for Each Other “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together”, Desmund Tutu What if the lesson the coronavirus is passing on to us is radical and actionable compassion? When seeing this epidemic with new eyes, we might start to witness the possibility in front of us for an emergency of more compassion for each other. At the heart of compassion is acceptance; the better we are at accepting the reality in front of us right now, the more compassionate we can become towards ourselves and others. This is true for the coronavirus times as well as beyond. Just imagine for a moment if these months of isolation, restricted movements and time in quarantine became our everyday lives, and now imagine that this “experience” in fact is what life looks like for millions of people around the world from slave camps in Libya, refugee camps in South Sudan, Lesbos, Bangladesh, DRC, Turkey, Syria, etc., indigenous people fighting for their survival (and ours) in the Amazonia, women being restricted in their movements across the world, across Latin America notably due to the risk of femicide and in Saudi Arabia due to the male guardianship system among other examples. In these times of complete reset globally, let’s recall that with or without the coronavirus we are equal and bound together in our common humanity and interconnectedness. Recognizing our shared humanity is a reflection of real compassion because it means that we are able to clearly see ourselves in each other. Helene Guldborg Life Coach and Crossing Borders board member

Global Reset – A Call to Standing Together – By Helene Guldborg Read More »

Alex Sabour and the Gorilla Media on Food For Thought – Reflection by Martina Popaďáková On February 6th we held one of our Food for Thought Events and we were excited to hear an inspiring story about the motivation behind Gorilla Media Denmark. We had the honor to have all the “gorillas” present, along with its Creative Director and founder Alex Sabour. Alex shared with us the journey of Gorilla Media from the very initial idea and desire to do projects that he truly “burns for” to the publication of its first successful projects and all the challenges and struggles along the way. 78 Awards and over 500 million people reached are just some of the stunning numbers achieved by this creative advertising agency and production house which started in December 2016. It first began as Alex´s dream of doing projects on important topics and at the time, it seemed an impossible dream. He started with a simple Facebook page, logo and website, but when the opportunity came, Alex took his chance. On 9th February 2017 the Danish parliament released the official statement, which stipulated: “The Danish parliament concludes with concern that there are today areas in Denmark where the share of immigrants and descendants from non-western countries is more than 50%. It is the apprehension of the Danish parliament that Danes should not be a minority in residential areas in Denmark.” In short: Danes within housing projects should not be in a minority. As a reaction to this statement, Alex wanted to do something about it, so together with Lelo Shalby and Sasan Askari made a video named “Jeg er Dansk” (I am Danish).  The video received mixed reactions from ecstatic to enraged, with some groups severely disagreeing with Gorilla. Alex´s expectations were exceeded when the video went viral in such a short amount of time. In just under 24 hours, the video had 1.5 million views and received a huge reaction not only from the Danish market but also internationally; it went viral in Sweden and Norway and shortly after started spreading throughout Europe and South America. The main motivation behind the video was to change the perspective on minority groups, not only in Denmark. The message they sent out started a domino effect and Alex realized that when he pushed, he could get a reaction. The campaign was therefore successful because they brought a different perspective to the entire debate on who is actually Danish; Danish parliament subsequently re-wrote the statement and made it more inclusive for minority groups. It had a direct effect. Alex and his team won a London prize for the “Best Viral Campaign” for reaching over 100 million people worldwide. It was a huge honor and success – they beat big brands in the category like Ikea, Norwegian air and Adidas.The successful campaign #JegErDansk was a milestone marking the official start of Gorilla Media. Knowing that they could do something beneficial, the team started to play with multiple perspectives on the topics that were not discussed or challenged yet. Their purpose became clear – “to see the video and leave the viewer with an impression regardless of what that impression is”. Gorilla got its first real client, Dansk Kvindesamfund (Danish Women Society), followed by a partnership with Extra Bladet (a Danish tabloid newspaper) where Gorilla published 12 episodes on minority topics on their platform. Their received a lot of views but also provoked hate, debates and comments. Throughout 2018, Gorilla Media was growing bigger and settled in its new office. The team kicked off a big and successful  campaign on Revenge Porn in partnership with Dansk Kvindesamfund and PornHub. Further collaboration enabled them to spread the campaign and, as a result, porn sites began to remove illegal content. 2019 was a general election year for Denmark and there were more successful projects for Gorilla Media. Danish media was under fire for giving a platform to promote the agenda of Danish lawyer Rasmus Paludan and his far-right party, which had gained traction ahead of the election. His political movement Stram Kurs (Hard Line) called itself the party for “ethnic Danes” and wanted to ban Islam and deport all Muslims from Denmark. The party was forecasted to win 2,3% of the vote, which would be enough to enter parliament. Gorilla media decided they need to get involved and, together with Rasmus Paludan´s brother, Martin Paludan, they launched a video in which Martin urged Danes not to vote for Rasmus Paludan´s party. The video spread rapidly over social media and gained hundreds of thousands of views with both negative and positive reactions. Paludan lost 30% of people who wanted to vote for him, blaming Gorilla Media for his failure to get Stram Kurs into parliament. Whether it was a result of the video or not is unproven, but one can admit that its intention was achieved, and that’s surely what matters. With successful campaigns on controversial topics, Gorilla Media inevitably face groups of angry people. With it comes hatred and death threats too. Gorilla Media produced a number of videos which were either removed from Facebook or pulled from publishing due to “controversial” content. Alex revealed to us that some of the videos and publications never previously shown to the public. One can wonder, what is it behind the decision of big players to not publish content intended to offer different perspectives on fundamental topics. Is it fear that people’s eyes will be opened, or are their personal values not aligned with Gorilla Media´s content? Gorilla Media is continuing to do innovative work and such rejection will not stop them.  Successful projects have already proven that through hard work they can inspire, provoke and change people’s perspectives. Alex´s story inspired us to believe in ourselves and that following one’s passion is possible even if the system is against you. Their success is not final and failure is not fatal, it is their courage to continue that truly counts.  Gorilla Media has great courage. As Albert Einstein said: “Never stop questioning”. We are very excited to see what comes next, how

Alex Sabour and the Gorilla Media on Food For Thought – Reflection by Martina Popaďáková Read More »

Reflection on Food For Thought​ with Dr. Samay Hamed by our interns Soren and Owen

Last Thursday, at the first Food for Thought of 2020 Crossing Borders hosted Dr. Samay Hamed. The event opened as usual with a presentation of Dr. Hamed’s experiences in Afghanistan where he has been trying to bring various means of non-formal education and break cultural taboos, all with the ultimate goal of improving the lives of his fellow Afghanis. Following that, our wonderful intern, Ms. Yuka Fuji, and her friend Hika presented an incredible Japanese dinner for us featuring five different dishes (and which very well could have been presented as a 4-course, five-star meal). Like all of our FFT speakers, Dr. Hamed is a man of many talents. He is a trained medical doctor, a journalist who won the 2003 International Press Freedom Award, a prolific author of books and songs (32 book, 100 songs, and counting), and is committed to challenging the status quo of culture, education, and ways of thought in Afghanistan. In Dr. Hamed’s mind, the way to change society is by starting from the bottom rather than the top. To do this, he says, you must change the way people think and help encourage critical thinking. After noting the lack of space for critical thinking in Afghan society and education, Dr. Hamed decided the best way to do this was by creating these spaces himself. These spaces include (among others) musical festivals, workshops, satirical T.V. shows, and underground publications. His first attempt at this initiative was to create a new alphabet song for children. The song provided an alternative way to learn about letter sounds that the common methods (used in mosques and schools) had not employed. The alphabet song ended up becoming so popular that the Afghan Ministry of Education now employs a similar method throughout the country. Furthermore, to counter the concept that only famous individuals can create art or stories worthy of public consideration, Dr. Hamed invited students to a workshop that produced an original story that which received international publication. In a similar vein, he also developed an initiative that collected discarded blackboards from around the country. Workshops about the physics of light, color, and shapes were turned in to painting events for children and the resultant works were sold around the world. Proceeds from the sales were used to purchase 1000 whiteboards for classrooms throughout Afghanistan.  To bring spaces for critical thinking to adults, Dr. Hamed has employed a variety of methods. Of particular note were magazines that included poetry, art, and poignant political satire. He has also helped facilitate a clothes recycling workshop for women that simultaneously discuss social issues and political rights. Ultimately, it can be said that Dr. Hamed is seeking Afghan-led solutions for the issues he has identified. As a cabinet member of the government, he is seeking to “shake a hand” for the country rather than relying on international monetary deals. He called to our attention the corruption that comes from dumping money into problems rather that digging into society’s roots to look for solutions. He spoke about an older tradition in Afghanistan what was similar to the community kitchens/and meals he saw during his time here. He would like to renew this concept but make it larger in scale so that a sense of local and national community is refreshed, and social bonds strengthened. Speaking of food, the culinary portion of the night centered around a traditional Osaka pancake called okonomiyaki, filled with onion and drizzled with mayo and a wonderfully tangy brown sauce brought by Hika. Dish number two, nikujaga, featured boiled potatoes and vegies which were essentially a vehicle for the infamous umami flavor that can be difficult to find in Denmark. Takikomi gohan (rice with veggies) provided additional heft to our plates as dish number three. The meal was rounded out with piping hot miso soup and weafed salad covered in a sesame dressing. As usual, there were hardly any leftovers and I was left begging for recipes.  Thanks to all who attended, the CB team looks forward to seeing you at our next event! I would like to leave you with a poignant thought from an original poem by Dr. Hamed that speaks specifically to Afghan-US relations but is relevant to our hope for a peaceful future: There are children who play and dream/of a free and fresh future/they could understand each other/and/they will meet each other as tourists/not as soldiers.

Reflection on Food For Thought​ with Dr. Samay Hamed by our interns Soren and Owen Read More »

Youth Voices: We are shapers, not listeners – Digital Climate Exchange

Young people deserve to be heard. As the climate becomes more and more unstable, it is young people who have the most at stake. That’s why it’s more important than ever that youth come together, raise their voices and empower themselves to become agents of change at every level. For this to happen, the gap between young people and decision makers need to be bridged so that youth can more fully participate in processes of decision making and policy making that will define their futures. Through the activities described below, this project aims to do exactly that: to put young people and decision makers in dialogue about the issues that matter most within the European context. If you want to build your knowledge on European climate politics, if you want your ideas to reach decision makers across Europe, if you want the opportunity to make direct policy suggestions to the people in power, then look no further! Join us in the Youth Voices virtual exchange. Apply Now Activities Schedule The virtual exchange will consist of 3 days, with participants joining from Greece, Portugal, Romania and Denmark. The first two days are all about exchanging ideas, learning together, and building our capacity to understand, engage and act. The third day will be our Youth Voices on Climate Change Panel Debate, where we will be joined by 8 panelists from across Europe to debate and discuss European level climate policy. You will have the opportunity to meet in Zoom breakout rooms with the panelist of your choice to ask questions, share ideas, and make direct suggestions. All activities will take place online. Please see the detailed schedule on the next page. Day 1 – Welcome Day 2 – Transnational Youth Climate World Café Day 3 – Panel Debate with Decision Makers Apply Now If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to the project coordinator at

Youth Voices: We are shapers, not listeners – Digital Climate Exchange Read More »

Education for sustainable development and global citizenship By Garba Diallo, Director of Crossing Borders, Denmark

This educational piece, written in 2004 by our Crossing Borders Managing Director, Garba Diallo after attending the UN Earth Summit in Johannesburg in 2002, explains the vital relationship between proper education, sustainable development and the creation of positive global citizenship. Learn more about our role as educators in the context of fundamentally unequal globalization – it is as important today as when he wrote it.  Introduction As with national citizenship, proper education is the key to both sustainable development and the creation of positive global citizenship. Sustainable development aims at meeting the needs of today’s generations while taking into consideration the rights and needs of future generations. Sustainable development should also include acknowledgment and respect for the positive heritage and legacy of past generations. In order to link the present with the past and future, we need education for sustainable development. In the present global era of interconnections and networks, educating for global citizenship is a natural response to the increasing demand for global consciousness, intercultural understanding, and cross-cultural competence. Designing and implementing present and future education programs in the global context does give education a better meaning and concrete framework. Thus, education for life, sustainable development, and global citizenship are three interdependent contributors towards the creation of a truly global community. If it can be assumed that all human beings have a right to freedom and equality regardless of where they are born, then global citizenship must be built on the principle of equal rights, opportunities and responsibilities of all citizens without discrimination. The principle of equality is the surest way to develop the sense of individual, local, national and global “belonging. In other words, people need to feel and believe that membership in a global community serves their interests and reflects their various identities and cultures, and future aspirations. The problem with the present globalization In theory, there is general support for both education for sustainable development and global citizenship. This can be seen in various international declarations and documents of the United Nations. The same can also be said about globalization. As such, the problem is not about globalization, but what kind of globalization. For many people around the world, the present globalization is no more than the globalization of the interests of powerful countries and their companies. Therefore, it is easy to confuse the concept of sustainable development of people with sustaining welfare of the big multinational companies. This makes the development and implementation of education for sustainable development and global citizenship a difficult task. The question is how to educate people on global citizenship and sustainable development in the context of the contemporary politico-economic global system. The paradox of the present global structure While we talk about the global village and the international community, the present global system does not represent or serve the interests of the majority of the people of the globe. The consequence of this system can be seen in the fact that:   · Less than 20% of the world population (mostly in the west) controls over 80% of the world’s resources while the same minority contributes over 80% of global pollution · The elite of the 20% control the three most powerful global institutions (WTO, World Bank, and IMF) that set the agenda for global trade, development, and finance, respectively. · While some 800-1000 million people suffer from acute lack of food, sanitation, and access to basic health care, energy, and clean water, people in the USA alone spend 75-100 billion dollars per year to deal with affluanza (sedentary illnesses and obesity) problems. This amount is about double the amount needed to meet the Millennium Goals set by the UN to half the number of starving people, provide access to clean water, health care and energy by 2015. · Even though there are enough money and resources, political vision and leadership are lacking. According to the conclusions of the May 2004 Global Conscience Conference in Copenhagen, a 0.1% tax on international money transactions would provide 241 billion dollars annually. · If we look at the cost of the war against Iraq, the US has already spent over 100 billion dollars. This amount does not include the killing of 10-13,000 Iraqi civilians, and the destruction of property, infrastructure, environment, and cultural heritage. As educators, it is important to provide the necessary space and opportunities for students to be made aware of this dimension of globalization and development. This can be done by presenting and analyzing the existing global politico-economic structure and how it affects different communities in different countries. What are the links between acute poverty in some parts of the world and too many riches in other parts? The problems of refugees, asylum seekers, and global terrorism can be related to perceived global injustice and inequality. These are relevant education topics for both sustainable development and global citizenship.   Neither fair nor free The architect of the present global system likes to preach open markets and free trade. However, the hard truth is that there is neither free nor fair trade. While the rich north has turned the world into an open market, it does not allow free or fair trade with the global south. The north spends 356 billion dollars annually in subsidies for its already rich farmers. On this, it is worth noting that the number of active farmers in the US and the EU is 2% and 4% of the population respectively. In addition to the one billion dollars per day subsidy, the north has erected a wall of trade barriers against agricultural products from the south. In order to make agricultural products cheaper, the north also gives export subsidies for shipping products to the south. A transport tax deduction is another way of making it possible for northern farm products to be dumped in the south. In teaching about global citizenship and sustainable development, unfair trade can be related to development aid and corruption, as two important dimensions of globalization. In any unfair relationship, corruption can

Education for sustainable development and global citizenship By Garba Diallo, Director of Crossing Borders, Denmark Read More »

Neither here Noor there – By Owen Savage

Through Croydon’s drizzle I made out Noor’s shape, nebulous and bin-bag like against the sharp neon of chicken and betting shops. My boss had asked that I help this young man, who was my age, as a kind of warm up after I’d begun volunteering at an organisation specialising in giving practical advice to refugees. Having just graduated and with the irksome realisation that I needed to convince people I was up to a job, I’d jumped at the chance to sort out his life instead of mine. The charity had multiple projects, but mine was the only one that continued to assist young people after they turned 18. One of them was Noor – a young man from Afghanistan with learning difficulties. He was the son of a Taliban commander who’d been killed in combat, and the Taliban’s plans to have him avenge his father by making him put on a suicide vest had forced his mother to hurriedly send him away, spending everything she had in the process. Circumstances for women in modern-day Afghanistan meant the process of getting her son to Europe could only be achieved with the aid of a male (in this case his maternal uncle). I felt I was treading on eggshells as I entered Noor’s room. Looking down, I realised I was – they were strewn all over the room and led up to a giant pot of scrambled egg, as old as it was rubbery. Noor was suffering. He limped on both feet with an ingrowing toenail on one and a fungal infection on the other. He wasn’t shy about showing this and hadn’t so much offered me a hand but a nude and blistered foot upon meeting. This was partly due to dank conditions in his bedroom with the egg neighbour only to an uncovered bed and an unordered mound of papers strewn all over the floor. He pointed to the window and laughed. “Broken. It has been broken for a long time!” He presumably understood the irony of £650 a month of Housing Benefit having been stumped up for this place and siphoned off to a private landlord whom he hadn’t heard from in months. Noor’s status as a Care Leaver – someone who had as a child been looked after by social services ­– meant that he still received limited help from a social worker but, due to his learning difficulties, this wasn’t enough. His Personal Adviser at the council was unreachable. When Noor did get through to her, she mostly reminded him of how little time she had. According to her, he’d been ignoring his texts from Universal Credit and worse, had failed to organise his finances correctly; she wasn’t keen on acknowledging that Noor could barely read his own name in English. This, along with an absent landlord, had resulted in him building up nearly £4000 in rent arrears. Even his right to the egg den now seemed precarious. Something had to crack. My first task was accompanying Noor to Job Centre Plus. On the bus I tentatively asked about his history and he disclosed that he was alone here in the UK, speaking fondly of his older brothers who he’d lost on the journey from Afghanistan. This struck me as particularly sad as it seemed he would have benefited greatly from caring older siblings. Once in the job centre, we were shepherded to the top floor by the G4S guards. Individually they were nice enough, but the company’s corporate edge seemed inappropriate for such a setting, adding to the overall feeling that it was a place where one is punished for even having the cheek to be there. The room wasn’t so much intimidating as stagnant. You could sense immediately that frustration was universal and, as a man barely capable of purchasing a bag of crisps without incurring some sort of late fee, I couldn’t help feeling I was the wrong person to be guiding him through. “You will ask about bed bugs?” said Noor furtively as we edged through the foyer. He had developed a speculative obsession with his skin condition being a result of bed bugs in his room, his confusion made obvious by his thinking that the job centre was the place to sort this out. He was no longer receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance after repeatedly missing appointments and his inability to read meant that Universal Credit’s appointment confirmation texts were ineffective. Luckily I had arrived: his English eyes and English ears. The guards sat us on a sofa in front of a woman bamboozled by an out-dated computer. She continually prodded at it with a one-fingered technique.
 “Oh, the system…” she sighed. After a few visits I’d become familiar with this utterance. I tried to explain the situation: that Noor couldn’t keep to appointments when told about them by text alert, let alone spend the requisite 25 hours a week searching for work on a computer he had not the slightest idea how to use. He was on the verge of losing his house and hadn’t enough money to buy food. Ms Patel stared back at me blankly with what I would soon realise to be a face of perpetual puzzlement.
 “I am sorry but this is how the system works.” I immediately became desperate, realising that I was dangerously under-qualified for the situation and lacked any decent rebuttal. “But obviously he is simply incapable of doing that”. “But this is the system…” Noor wasn’t with us. He was staring out of the window at the Croydon horizon.
 “Many buildings. They are doing many buildings here. Could I live in one of these?” 
This was no time to get into a nonsensical dialogue about the housing crisis and I swerved the conversation back to Ms Patel.
 “And what about his Housing Benefit?” Noor’s rent money was now not going to his landlord but straight to him, an unfortunate arrangement for a man who, according to his bank statements, had an unhealthy habit

Neither here Noor there – By Owen Savage Read More »

A Reflection on CB20 – By Soren Klaverkamp

Just over one month ago the Crossing Borders community came together to celebrate how far we have come in 20 years. Since 1999 our family has continued to expand, and it was a true joy to bring some 250+ family members from all over the world together under Cinemateket’s roof for an extended night of storytelling, food sharing, and revelry. The event was a true celebration of a borderless world in miniature. Notable speakers such as Sara Omar, Jacob Holdt, and H.E. Zindzi Mandela shared stories of past struggles and future dreams. The mood was festive but there were also persistent reminders of how far we have yet to go and why the work of Crossing Borders is so important. Ambassador Mandela put it aptly with her opening words, “welcome comrades, welcome friends.” In noting that we all share this world, she reminded us that we must push forward together as one to create a more open, inclusive and welcoming world were our friendships can freely blossom. Mpho Ludidi, Khalid Albaih, and Sara Rahmeh were just a few who took part in  the two part our Voices of the World feature where artists and activists shared their ongoing efforts to break down borders and promote a more inclusive global society. With our bellies in mind, a number of attendees and CB staff had worked up a sweat in their respective kitchens prior to the event. A decadent tasting buffet with homemade savory dishes and sweet desserts from every corner of the world filled everyone’s stomachs and hearts. It speaks to the quality of the cooking that nary a crumb was left at the close of the night. In addition to the time put in by CB volunteers and staff, the event could not have gone as well as it did without the generous contributions from sponsors: Stalks and Roots, Fiolblomster, Kultorvets Blomster, Impact Roasters, and Nordhavn Coffee Roasters. We at Crossing Borders are eternally grateful for all the positive energy from the event and have used it to propel us further. Since the event, we have continued our mission. Just last week, staff visited Berlin as part of a Dialogue in Adult Education, we hosted a multiplier event targeted at entrepreneurial migrants and refugees in Ubuntu House, and staff hosted a training of trainers for youth engagement in northern Fyn which drew practicioners from four European countries. The list could go on and on. Looking forward, we are proud to announce the relocation of our Global Studies højskole program to Nordfyns Højskole and the opening of shorter programs in northeastern Sjælland. We have come so far in 20 years, but this is not a path with an end. This is a mission where the reward comes from the journey, not from reaching an end point. We will not succeed without the continued support of our friends and family. Thank you and we look forward to seeing everyone again!

A Reflection on CB20 – By Soren Klaverkamp Read More »