2015 Memories - A Kind of a DDI Newsletter - Part 6

Post 6: Participant reflections on national identities

Spain, Catalonia, Basque… 

DDI Intensive October 2015: Power, love, war and miracles in Barcelona Spain 

On one occasion, the large group held the pot for Spanish-Catalonian-Basque friends to interact with each other about the current situation here in Spain, with the support of the day’s student facilitation team from Ukraine, Spain and USA. The recent elections for independence of Catalonia, the contradictions and tensions, and wounds of history weeping in the background came out. 

‘Does an overall national identity exist among us?’ 

‘Yes! You are part of us!’

‘No we are not!’

Feelings of pride for being recognized through the political process was followed by a voice of caution: 

‘I am afraid to feel national pride. I remember too well our history, the human cost of nationalism escalating out of control’. 

We heard stories of families torn apart - brother against brother, sister against sister. Some spoke of the tension having not one but multiple national and cultural identities. Painful memories of violence and killing surfaced. Voices of the dead appeared, encouraging a different way for a better world, appreciating difference, within Spain, and connected with the wider world. One of our teachers did the impossible and stepped into the figure of the one who caused the violence – the dictator, helpers and nations who stood by - the one that wants to rule:

 ‘Yes, I did it, we did it. I now face you. I feel it’. 

A small beginning of finding new ways to make amends.

We were touched beyond words, and grateful to our local hosts and friends for allowing us to witness and feel in an unforgettable way the dignity, the hopes, the ghosts of history, and the urge for a better world with more understanding for diversity, freedom and community. Many present from around the world felt this work was theirs also: 

Arita from Latvia reflects on the role of language in identity:

Despite years of inner work, I was shocked how the topic of language, brought me right back to my personal history in Latvia. During Soviet occupation in Latvia, at school, I had to learn Russian as my second language. In 1991 we got independence. ‘That’s it!’ I thought, ‘I don’t have to speak it anymore!’ Russian language, however beautiful, had become for me a symbol of oppression. Witnessing the Catalonians and Spanish people express the impact they had on each other, I realized I had been free now for a while, in touch with my Latvian identity, which also means that speaking any language becomes a choice. I remembered that I still understand Russian perfectly, even though I am shy to speak it. By not speaking Russian I am losing contact with the human beings who do and also deprive myself from enjoying, for example, a Russian literature and films. I felt my heart opening up. The next day I went to a peer from Moscow and asked: ‘Would you like to work with me during the next exercise? I came home, better understanding our Russian minority and the pain of history, right here in Latvia.

Boris is from Odessa, in Ukraine. He is a leader and coach in social and business communications in corporations, NGOs, government, municipal and state organisations:

Yesterday I witnessed a miracle in the group process about Spain and diverse identities. You could never achieve what happened there with a piece of paper and a group of very smart people trying to join it together. We heard and felt the difficulties of all the different people and nationalities and groups living together, the complex history that still is not resolved. Some are still living in history, some use history to justify actions today. Some want to go forward, and some want to move on and live in peace and harmony. 


 ‘I want my independence’, or ‘this is my opinion’, ‘I want the country to be united’. People were not just stating a point of view, they were actually building connections, without intending. The magic of it! Here, people who were fixed in one immoveable position and, found themselves moving a couple of steps forward. There were tears, there was honesty. People were asking forgiveness for their ancestors, and accepting the apology. 

I want to learn this mystery, this way of facilitating that creates atmosphere and space to make this possible. I wept, feeling our tough situation in Ukraine. I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and I felt it is possible to find a solution. 

Thursday, 17. December 2015

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