Look Up!

Hello everyone! We hope you are doing well.

It’s been quite sometime since the last time we wrote something and many, many things have been happening to the Divers. Don’t worry too much, we will write about that during this week. For now, there’s something else I would like to talk to you about.

I found a video that has been going viral on facebook and other social networks. Seems a bit ironic though, that this video talks about how we are living an illusion called social media and not living real life; how we are interacting with others through our phones and computers instead of actually taking the time to look into their eyes and get to really know them. Still, even though it is also ironic that I am writing about this and sending you a message through my computer and another social network, I think this are the kind of messages worth opening facebook for. This person, Gary Turk, made the video you will find below and I honestly found refreshing to listen to those words and seeing so many people sharing them.

About almost 2 weeks ago we ran an activity about facebook and social media and how it is changing our social dynamics in terms of the way we are interacting with each other, at the same time that it has implications in the building of our own identity, and this video reminded me of it.

I say “changing social dynamics” because not too long ago people would actually write to one another, whether if it was letters, postcards or simply small notes, but they waited for those impatiently and, once they received them, it was exciting and fascinating to open the envelop and start reading what someone took the time to write for them. Children weren’t absorbed by technology, but would go outside and enjoy nature. Creativity and imagination was all they needed, and they would build houses made out of boxes and sheets. But it has all changed now. We entertain children with technology and, how can we tell them to not get absorbed by it, when we are too?

I still think technology is fantastic and being able to reach people, who live in the other side of the world, within seconds is a revolutionary idea. Still, I think we have let ourselves get too excited about it and so, like Gary said, we might have hundreds of friends on facebook, but when we want to go drink a coffee or go for a walk, how many of those friends are willing to join you?

So, here’s my challenge for all of you -including me. Why don’t we, for a day, leave our phones at home and try to go through a whole day without them. Let’s look at people’s faces, let’s have real conversations with them and let us open our minds in order to discover things we haven’t been able to, like for example how good it feels to walk around the city on a sunny day.

Finally, here is the video… Enjoy the rest of your week!

Credits of the video:

Written, Performed & Directed by Gary Turk.
Featuring Louise Ludlam & Stuart Darnley.
Original score by New Desert Blues.
Sound engineering by Daniel Cobb.
Filmed and edited by Gary Turk.

www.garyturk.com
www.twitter.com/gary_turk
www.newdesertblues.com

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

I have had the privilege of being involved in this particular arena and I would say that there are a lot of things that can be done. Particularly, we can start by not underestimating these people, since they just need other tools and resources to be a part of a community where they can enjoy the same rights we do, and where they feel included.

You might say that they have difficulties but in truth, they are not the only ones; we also face challenges and difficulties in our lives. For example, one may need a wheelchair to go from one place to another, someone else may need glasses to see better, or maybe… just maybe, someone needs a friend during hard times.

We all have barriers, whether they are physical or attitudinal, but when we talk about attitudinal barriers it is very difficult to break free, which is why it is so important to be aware of differences and be accepting towards others, even if they seem a little strange to us.

Working for a more inclusive society is one of our duties and we should not leave this important task to governments or organizations; we should not blame it on others while sitting on the coach of our living room. We cannot continue to live in a world where injustice and rejection play a primary role. It is us the ones who need to take action into our own hands and start making a difference, for as big or as small as it may be.

There was an article that talked about social initiative in both big and large groups of people. What seemed very odd was that, the bigger the group the less action there was and, at the end, when they asked people ‘Why didn’t you do something to change the situation you were seeing?’ all of them would answer: “Because I thought someone else would do it.” In smaller groups though, people didn’t hesitate to react towards the simulations, working together while creating a strategy for social action, giving great inputs to solve the situations they were seeing. What I’m trying to say is: let’s not wait for someone else to do something; in the words of M. Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

To give you some tips on social initiatives, take a look at the ‘Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ and start thinking of ways you can contribute to enrich diversity in your communities.

Like ants do, let’s all work together to build the world we want to live in.

CONVENTION on the RIGHTS of PERSONS with DISABILITIES

 

“JUST BECAUSE IT ISN’T HAPPENING HERE DOESN’T MEAN IT ISN’T HAPPENING”

Last week I came across this campaign that Save the Children is making in order to create awareness about children’s situation around the world. One of the main focuses right now are the children suffering in Syria and well, even though it is true that Syria is facing some difficult times right now, the slogan is not very far from the truth –not only there but in many places today: “just because it isn’t happening here, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening”.

I would guess most of the northern countries don’t have to deal with these issues today but, countries like mine for instance, face similar situations although a bit less evident for the rest of the world. In Colombia –not to mention many other Latin American countries- we can see how children are being thrown out of their homes and sent to the main cities to wonder on the streets, sleep under bridges or under the rain; dealing with diseases and infections, and asking for money to anyone who is willing to give them. But then again, the problem is not whether we want to help them or not, of course we want to help them! But it is not that simple, because in reality we don’t know if their stories are true or not, maybe because we’ve heard the same story a million times –probably because it has happened a million times- or maybe because we have a hard time believing this is actually happening to our people, or simply because (and this for me may be, unfortunately, the correct answer) we are so used to the internal conflict our country has been through, that we are not touched by these people and we simply got used to them, becoming more indifferent towards our own reality.

This is a little something of a deeper article we will have on our book. For now, let me invite you to acknowledge your reality, be aware of what is happening in your community, your city, and your country. Try not to be indifferent towards others and try to understand the stories that hide behind their eyes… And always remember: just because it isn’t happening here, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

Have a great week everyone!

What do you see when you look at the sky?

 

I chose this title because it can briefly describe the divers’ experience at Planetarium of Bogotá. Even though most of the people think this one is one of the perfect places for kids to be in, I could say that this is a place for grown-ups too. The Planetarium leads us to rethink how diverse our planet actually is.

Surrounded by question marks, we noticed that we know nothing about the universe, or in other words (said by the Planetarium): “our knowledge of the universe does not only come from what we can see”. This questioning was the perfect start for another research of how diversity looks like outside planet earth. We decided to go far up…

Every generation is different; traditions shift and our perception also changes. It changes every time someone says something new, rediscovers any thing or finds out something we have not even thought of before.

A long time ago, people knew when to plant and grow food depending on how the stars were aligned; they could know when the next season was coming because the sky was their main calendar and guide. For instance, Mayans were the first ones to create an “annual” calendar based on the position of the sun and the moon respectively. Every hour the light from both, the sun and the moon, would point at a different angle of the calendar (a circle made in stone, by the way). The thing was that they noticed that the rotation of the earth was conditioned by factors that they couldn’t really understand. Having a calendar was not enough though, they needed a compass to guide them; they would know when to grow fruits but not where to do it, so they used the stars and the constellations to create an imaginary map for them to follow when they needed to build, grow food, haunt, etc.

Mayan_Zodiac_CircleComplete Haab cycle. This photo was taken by Theilr and posted in the Flickr site on 27 December 2007, 13:17:07

Today, we have our own calendar and our own “technologically” assembled compasses, which is probably why all these questions about the universe would not come up in a normal conversation, it’s like everything had been figured out by others for us. Probably, sometimes you are even looking at you smartphone instead of taking a minute to look up to the sky and try to find the “Polaris”, or maybe too busy running in the complexity of modern cities to try and understand why we, sometimes, see Mars in the sky and sometimes we don’t (a little hint: the reason is called the Mars’ Illusion).

What I am trying to say is that the universe is so complex, that there are still questions without answers… Unsolved puzzles. Although there are many theories and hypothesis about the beginning of the universe, there are many remaining doubts, but the interesting thing is that there are many possible ways of looking at one single phenomenon. Either way, all those theories we think are so crazy, should all be respected and why not, heard once or twice. That’s just another way of giving diversity the place it deserves in this world… or maybe in outer space.

I would like to encourage you to have a look at what is around us and you’ll see how small we really are while looking at the big wide night sky, but just keep in mind that for as small as we may be, imagination and curiosity can cross barriers and overcome any limits.

So I want to give you a little task. Why don’t you ask yourself: what do you see when you look at the sky?

The High, The Mighty & The Supreme Leader

Last week we introduced ourselves: The Divers, but the team is never complete without some pressure… And who are the ones putting pressure on us the whole time? The answer to this is summarised in three particular characters. They are known, among us, as: “the High” because he is very incredibly tall (for colombian height that is) and he always sees things from a new perspective; the “Mighty” because he will fix anything at anytime; and the “supreme leader” because he actually is the supreme leader. Basically if either “The High” or “The Mighty” are helping us or are fixing something, this last guy has the final word.

So the first additional member of this fantastic team called The Divers is:

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THE HIGH (aka EIRIK):  My name is Eirik Breivik Minde and at 34 years old I have the pleasure of working as the coordinator for this exchange. I was born and raised on the west coast of Norway but have travelled all my life. I developed a strong relationship with Colombia and my pension-plan is to settle down on a farm there.

I am also a professional musician and a dedicated father to a little boy who will soon be two years old. He is the most important thing in my life and he exemplifies my main reason to work with CISV: I genuinely believe that we can create a better world based on mutual respect, understanding and friendship.

I have lots of interests but right now I really look forward to the world cup in Brazil. My son and I are ready to cheer for Colombia in our new football shirts!

The second additional member of this one-of-a-kind team is…

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THE MIGHTY (aka JUANMA): My name is Juan Manuel Oviedo but everyone calls me Juanma. I am a 27-year-old that was lucky enough to join the exchange crew in 2011 when it was first thought of. I have been involved with community work in my country (Colombia), working with different NGO’s to strengthen their work. I am now a lawyer working on the international cooperation arena, with emphasis in Development work done in Colombia. I am a lover of prawns, travel and good life. I cannot be in one single place for more than a month. Languages and cultures are a part of my passion. CISV and me, a secret love, a hidden adventure. One of the most important parts of my life. It has been a life experience to learn about social justice and diversity of thinking, minds, and cultures.

Last but not least, we have the last additional member of the crew, he is…

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THE SUPREME LEADER (aka ANDREAS): My name is Andreas Mjelva and I am the National Secretary of CISV Norway and also the one in charge of the whole cooperation together with the project coordinators. I am 28 years old and live in Oslo, Norway. If you had met me 10 years ago you would have met a spoiled, selfish 18-year old whose only goals would be to be a professional football player and just get rich. However, after a trip to India and Tanzania when I was 18 years old my mindset changed completely. It was a world out there I did not know anything about and my experience changed me completely. Now my goal in life is to contribute to making the world a better place and I think CISV is a great place to start. Why Diversity? Because the world would be so boring without it. Diveristy of ideas, people and culture is one of the basic ingredients of progress.

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So now you can really say that you know the team. Without the three of them we would not have a lot of pressure all the time, but we wouldn’t have gotten this far either. That’s why, without a doubt, they are a very important part of our team even if you don’t really see them as much as you might see us. Yet, thank you very much Mr. High, Mr. Mighty and Mr. Supreme Leader.

This is us, the divers… The full house!

The vikings in the land of coffee!

Last week we had one of the most extraordinary and welcomed visitors we have ever had from Norway since we landed in Colombia. The Norwegian CISV President (Ine Annett Jomaas), the National Secretary (Andreas Underland Mjelva), and our Norwegian Coordinator (Eirik Breivik Minde) came to make a nice evaluation of our project… Not to mention that they missed having the divers around.

They were here for a couple of days, evaluating the project but also having fun with us and doing different activities as well as tasting the authentic Colombian food (they might miss it by now). During those days many CISVers joined us, some of them were our Colombian coordinator (Juan Manuel Oviedo), CISV Colombia’s Vice-president (Rodrigo Esguerra), the two colombians of the Con Lupa project (Adelaida Barrera and Diana Camacho),  CISV International’s vice-president (Juan Carlos Lozano) and CISV Colombia’s National Secretary (Marcela Izquierdo). It was a space where we could see the strong link that characterizes the relationship between Norway and Colombia, as well as how intense and enriching these exchange projects are. Like we all said: it’s getting stronger than ever.

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Sitting on the table we had the opportunity to talk about this organisation, its future, and we were wondering how CISV has achieved to create a huge impact throughout these years and how we can continue improving globally and locally. We all agreed that this project and its cooperation are unique, and we want for all of you to know about it, not only as future participants but as members of the CISV community. Additionally we, as a team, are really aware of this and the responsibility we have had trying to meet the organisational goals; still this has been quite a learning experience for us as individuals and as a team (not only us but our coordinators and our working team) both within the organisation and in our lives. We realised that this project is a process were we not only learn but share many things, and most importantly: we live, we dream, we believe in something, and this is why we are here trying to make this project better every time, knowing that peace is possible.

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The week went by in a second, but we were happy to have had the chance of bringing the vikings to enjoy some warm wether before going back to the cold north, and to make them bring out the child inside them at the water park. They had fun, we had fun.

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We really want to take this opportunity to thank the vikings. Their visit was a reminder of how they, along with our Colombian side of the team, have been there for us since the very beginning and now more than ever, they have given us more strength and more reasons to keep doing what we do. We are genuinely happy to be a part of this project and especially to be a part of this team of extraordinary people!

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THANK YOU A MILLION TIMES!

Three Stones From the Sun!

Hello everyone out there! We understand that you may already know the team but the question is do you know each of us, as individuals?

Well, we wanted to introduce ourselves properly to those who haven’t had the great opportunity to meet this fantastic diverse team called the divers (we really love playing with words)!

Enjoy getting to know us and hopefully we will also have the great opportunity to meet you soon. Still, we’re very glad to have met so many wonderful people in Norway, England, and Colombia! Thank you all for your support!

The first of this “one-of-a-kind” team is…

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ANITA (aka Big Mama): Hi there! I am Anita and I’m 24 years old. I am a psychologist and I love being it. I am Colombian, born in the capital city Bogota, and I’m here because I truly believe that every little thing we do has an impact in someone else. I could say that literature is one of my biggest passions, which is why wherever I go, I always bring books along. Also, there are authentic scenarios where I can feel at home, for example, laying down in the shadow beneath the tree, riding bicycle, having some coffee in a nice and cozy place (especially if there are amazing cakes or ice cream), going to the theatre and watching good films. In general, doing things that I feel can enrich my world, for instance taking a nap in a hammock is always enriching. I wanted to be part of this project working for peace education, knowing that children are both our hope and our future. My desire is to contribute to this content area (diversity) and its understanding; contributing to build bridges for a better tomorrow.

…The second person introducing himself comes from the north… Basically we could say he’s the viking diver…

Mikkel Profile
MIKKEL (aka Migue): My name is Mikkel Stokke and I am the guy in the Divers team. I was born 23 years ago and I was raised in Tønsberg, the oldest town in Norway. My mom, my dad and my two younger brothers, along with my dog have been my big support through all this years. I have been involved in CISV since 2011 and after that, summer is not summer without CISV. Diving is my passion, I love the ocean with its beauty and all its diversity, and the peace of mind you get under the surface. Since we, Norwegians, are born with skis on our feet, I enjoy skiing every winter and I am usually very active in terms of sports and activities, but sometimes I love to be lazy by laying on the couch, eat popcorn and watch movies.
Since CISV has taught me so much about myself and about peace education, and has given me some of the best friends you could have, I wanted to give something back to the organization. Interaction with people from all over the world is a great opportunity to gain knowledge about other cultures and realize how alike we really are.
…And last but not least, the third member of this “one-of-a-kind” team is…
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ANNA (aka Ranis): I am Anna and I am 23 years old. I’m studying Politics & International Relations. I am a big fan of photography, passionate about music, arts and literature. I guess I am also a big football lover. I like enjoying a nice cup of english tea, chilling at home or just meditating for a while, or even like Anita, I love a good nap on a hammock in the middle of nowhere. I find it both interesting and funny how we all perceive reality in a different way, so it made me wonder about this idea we have that “we are all the same”. But, at what point are we the same and at what point are we different from each other? Could diversity go beyond color, race, nationality, culture or language? I guess in a way it also defines us, gives us identity. Since I had all these questions, I wanted to be a part of a project that attempts to discover or at least will try to look into that word we all use so much but barely have a concrete meaning for: diversity.
FINALLY, we want to share a couple of experiences… For instance in the following pictures you will be able to see what Migue means when he says “Norwegians are born with skis” and Colombians are definitely not… If you take a close look, we were trying to jump in the snow but then again, you can see who is the expert and who are not!
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And of course you can’t miss the funny faces when landing on a very cold layer of snow… Ranis screaming, Anita holding her breathe (as if she was gonna swim) and Mikkel a very professional instructor…
Jumping in snow-8The result being this…Well, since this amazing post has not been embarrassing for us, we want to share the last pictures with all of you!

 

Identity!

 

Undoubtedly, diversity is related to countless things that happen in every day life, in many contexts, places, and each of them affects us as individuals. Therefore, one relevant topic we can take into consideration while approaching diversity is identity but, what do we mean by identity?

Fortunately, this concept has directed us into interesting discussions and allows us to think deep about our own identity, life, and why not, the issues that make our society worry on a daily basis.

Everyone has an identity, but it doesn’t mean that it’s necessary already defined. On the contrary, identity characterizes itself for being dynamic and there are many experiences in our lives that lead us to change, to have other preferences, to use certain colors, and sometimes we feel puzzled with ourselves: we can even act in a certain way which we never expected.

We change through our entire life and it seems to me, this sense of identity starts to be more complex every time: there are people who spend most of their lives trying to find themselves, trying to figure out where they belong, in a way trying to define who they are. Talking, thinking, and understand identity implies to take into consideration multiple facts that makes us who we are and contribute to our own existence.

So what about social media? What’s its contribution when defining our identity? Does social media have an impact in our identity? What do you want to show on your profile picture today? Will it be the same picture tomorrow? How do you expect to be seen by others? What about your personal information? How far are you willing to go when it comes to uncovering yourself to others? What kind of music, books and quotes do you want people to notice on your profile? Do you have any clue why I’m asking this?

How many of us build an image just trying to be accepted by others instead of trying to be accepted first by ourselves? For example on Facebook, are we showing ourselves exactly like we are? Or are we showing the person we would want to be?

This is just a taste of what our book will bring along. We think identity and social media has a strong relation with our concept of diversity, which is why we would like you to start thinking about it while we bring you some more thoughts later!

What is beauty?

Beauty has a lot to do with diversity, or at least I think so. The truth is, being different is one of the good things about life because it means that we can change, we can become someone new every time we want it. We can look different, change the colour of our hair, paint our nails in different ways, dress in different styles. But, what does it mean to be beautiful?

The idea of beauty has changed so much in the last hundred year, for instance what used to be a beautiful woman in the 20’s or the 50’s is not a beautiful woman in 2013. I would say that the main reason for this is media. The truth is that media shows us and, through propaganda and advertising, makes us want to fit into a mould build by our own society -and it has been that way because we have allowed it to be; which has made it harder for a lot of women and girls to find some peace of mind and learn to love themselves.

3086675410_65a48a77cd_oGeorge Grantham Bain Collection. New York beauties at Atlantic City carnival, 1922. [http://www.flickr.com/photos/mijori/3086675410/].

5163782525_2539e4b953_oNational Photo Company Collection. Four prize winners in an annual beauty show, Washington Bathing Beach – Washington, D.C., circa 1922 [http://www.flickr.com/photos/hollywoodplace/5163782525/].

In all honesty I can say that our brains have been modified by everything around us: our friends, family, media… Basically, today’s society but we don’t have to put ourselves through that much pressure. The message I want to share with you today is, like in the video I will add here, let’s rethink beauty, let’s redefine it, let’s show others that there are many ways of showing what beautiful really means. We don’t have to be all barbies, that’s the real message media should send. We don’t need to look all the same, under the same mould with the same characteristics, we can be different and still beautiful in our own way, and that’s the beauty of diversity.

Clic on the image below and you will see a video that is part of a big campaign DOVE is doing for redefining beauty, for making all women believe that they are beautiful the way they are, all different one from another. They want woman and girls to be able to show something they call: Real Beauty.

Comment on this post and tell us: WHAT DO YOU THINK REAL BEAUTY IS?

Enjoy!!

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Having a look at stereotypes:

Since we are working on the theme of diversity, we have been wondering about stereotypes that some people have about certain cultures, religions, countries, and so on. One reiterative aspect we have found so far is that it is really common to either generalize or simplify other people’s life’s according to their birth place, their beliefs, their professions, etc., and we can easily judge others based on that.

Although it may sound rude or unfriendly, some of the stereotypes we have of others have no ground; on the contrary, they are inherited and we adopt them, making them our own. Sadly, we can end up discriminating people without really knowing who they are.

Related to this, I think there are many challenges we must assume and one of them is to evaluate the way we see others and interact with them. It is important to stop and take a careful look at our own selves and then be able to judge our own thoughts. By this I mean, unveil yourself and have a look of the stereotypes you are wearing or carrying with you.

I’m saying this because I have seen that we can hurt others by our own prejudices and it is important to be aware of that. Paradoxical or reciprocally these can also affect us, because human relations move in the field of diversity and that’s what we should do: be open and make use of dialogue, between the familiar and the otherness.

Finally, I think we all should be aware that every human being represents a whole universe. So, if we make an effort trying to understand them, we won´t step back and we will stop seeing others as a threat.

Saying Goodbye… Norwegian style!

The last weekend we had in Norway was definitely a weekend we will not forget –and I don’t think I’m talking only about the two Colombians but for the other three foreigners that were with us in Eggedal (two from the Gambia and one from Kenya).

In our first post we talked about the LNU (the Norwegian Children and Youth Council) preparation course with members of two other exchange projects. Well, we all loved that first week together so much that we decided to spend a couple of our last days together again before we all left for the second part of the exchange outside Norway.

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The cabin trip had quite an unexpected beginning while arriving: Mikkel’s car flipped over the small hill, which was literally ice and then just landing in its head. Although at first I must admit it was a bit scary, it was just funny and kind of ironic in a way. What made this beginning so funny was the fact that we (3 non-Norwegians) were wondering in the middle of nowhere, up in a mountain and walking in an iced-floor behind two prepared and experienced Norwegians with our bags and some food we had bought before. Basically it was, with no doubts, a real “cultural experience” for us.

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The next day came and with it the other people of the group. We had decided to make a Christmas celebration so that all the foreigners could experience that before going back to our countries. The result was lovely! Great food (I should mention that the 4 non-Norwegian girls cooked a very Norwegian dish and apparently it was as it should be, which of course made us feel proud of our team work), great people, lots of funny moments, laughter, games and for sure one of my top ten Christmas celebrations ever!

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When we got back to Bergen, we had a great “quiz night” at the CISV house with tons of people, ate rice porridge and laughed way too much, it was a great way of saying goodbye to the place that had been our second home during those months and, of course, to the people.

Leaving Norway was difficult for many reasons. First, saying goodbye is never easy and this was not the exception, it was sad to say goodbye to all the great people we met and to Bergen, our amazing city. Second, we were excited to be going back home and see our friends and families, and of course, we missed our beautiful city Bogotá, but then again the fact that we had so many conflicted emotions made it even harder.

That is why, even though it’s been a month, I would like to take advantage of this blog post and thank everyone we met, all the people who made our days sunny even though it was incredibly cold. Thank you all for great memories and great moments.

Last but not least, belated Happy New Year for all!!!

Because who is perfect?

 

Hei hei!

While watching this video, I thought of inviting you to reflect upon your own stereotypes, and that includes the way how you actually portrait beauty and tend to frame people according to how they look like, rather than based on how they really are.
In addition to that, I consider that it’s extremely important for all of us to work towards a more inclusive society, knowing about other people’s realities, which should not be ignored by us. In a way, it is our mission to make each other visible.
We encourage you to embrace diversity and “diverse diversities”.
Less words, more facts!
because who is perfect