Everyone seems in strange spirits today. I think we’re all feeling the effects of our intense week together.
Some participants were thrilled with the whole conference. Some had constructive criticism. Today was a day for voicing these thoughts, first in small groups and later in the auditorium. Emotional highs and lows often took hold of tongues.
In my small group, one young woman recounted a story from her Auschwitz-Birkenau experience yesterday. She had been walking along, physically and mentally exhausted, as we trudged along the dirt road, en masse. Then, from somewhere behind her, she heard a young voice: “This is the first time I have been proud to be Roma.” The power of that statement gave her strength to continue.
This story says a lot, I think, about the power of communal experience.
After attending this conference, I feel the significance of August 2 as I never have before. I feel the collective energy of youth who want to make a difference in the lived realities of Roma across the globe. I have a better understanding of ternYpe’s mission, their concept of communication between Roma and non-Roma youth as a means of empowerment.
I also feel the heavy weight of the fact that the world is a vacuum where this one collective spark could easily be snuffed out. Prejudice is emotional, and negative intergroup exchanges happen every day. How can we bring our new communal feeling to bear with clarity and impact? Will people listen to reason?
Most importantly, how can we motivate more people to care?