A reflection on “the future of cross-cultural collaboration: Adapting geographies and mindsets for more resilient solidarity actions” for VAHA’s program – MitOst and Anadolü Kultur


“If you think you are too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room”. That is one of my favourite quotes from the “Board of innovation”. It just injects a bit of energy after a smile prints on your lips!

Let’s take it as a metaphor! Meaning your size isn’t what counts more. Yet it is your ability to be influential in the system of change. 

From last year, solidarity has been bringing people to assist and support each other, overcoming challenges and identifying solutions together. You may connect with many examples from your context. Speaking from the Italian side, the message “Andrà Tutto bene” – Everything will do just fine- represented a positive narrative; it helped keep our morale up in an uncertain moment.

Was it the truth?

Perhaps one of several truths, where narratives help us navigate a complex circumstance. Arts and culture players are wondering lately about the best way to manage in Covid and Post-Covid era? They are in search of alternative narratives. Are there any lessons-learnt to improve our practices? What is the deeper purpose of our work? How can we advocate for the recognition of cross-cultural collaboration’s role in achieving social justice and cohesion? And how to (de) motivate ourselves?”

On May 20 and 22, VAHA offered a space for positive group talk. Actors asked: “How to avoid hopelessness to support new narratives of change?”

In the Theory of Change, every actor can make actions at the level of behaviour, lifestyle before influencing others and helping the system change. Where does this happen, at the personal or single organization level?

The world is complex to deal with alone! Cross-cultural collaborations can help in this mission. How? It starts by recognizing the BIAS that we hold and by acting at these four levels:

  1. Adaptive geography
    Acting with a variable understanding of “cross-cultural” geography
  2. Critical thinking of assumptions on Cross-cultural collaboration
    Cultural humility & (In)visible borders
    Un-bias Truths
  3. Adaptive action
    Slicing complexity to understand and define priorities
  4. Power of Networks & stepping into Policies
    Shifting from simple collaboration towards collective impact
    Advocating beyond the bubble
    Mainstream your Narratives

VAHA’s workshops became a “safe space to ask uncomfortable questions”! A safe space that transforms into a “brave space”!

Discussions dealt with changing geographies and priorities in cross-cultural collaborations. There are new perspectives to explore, new practices to adopt. It starts by approaching the notion of borders beyond physical space: in mindsets (Tina), in language barriers (Mudar and Stella), or in the ability to connect local action to a systemic change (Zoya), act for social justice or sustainable development (Farah), freedom of expression (Olena), and peacebuilding (Alden). 

This collective awareness can unlock new opportunities.

Then, what are these steps for a better future in cross-cultural collaboration?

For answers and local stories, check the full article!You can download the PDF here.