Ten years ago today
Since then, we have conducted over 20 projects in a dozen countries promoting cultural understanding through music. I just got back from London, where I spoke about our work at the British Parliament’s Portcullis House, as part of a conference sponsored by the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy. The theme of the conference was “A Three Piece Puzzle: The Relationship between Culture, International Relations and Globalization.”
In the presentation, I guided conference participants through the process we often use to create compositions with communities in the countries where we do projects. I gave the example of Egypt in 2009, where Cultures in Harmony created compositions with underprivileged girls in Alexandria. One of those girls was Marwa, a pint-sized little imp in a red skirt, who delighted us with her constant smiles. Marwa, who works in a factory making rugs every day after school, said that she loves us. A sweet reaction to our project, but when we think of the tragedy of ten years ago and the tragedies that unfold today whenever terrorism strikes across the globe, how relevant is the reaction of a sweet and loving little girl in Egypt to composition workshops presented by Americans?
At the end of the London lecture, I said something like this: “This conference speaks of a three-piece puzzle, but I can't help thinking a fourth piece is missing. Culture can help us deal with inhumanity, international relations provide a forum for trying to prevent it, and globalization often increases it. The pieces don’t fit when terrorism strikes. Why should we keep going? Reason might impel us to give up, but that fourth piece is not reason. It is hope. Cultures in Harmony will continue to create compositions with young Egyptian girls like Marwa, because especially after the events of this year, we know that Marwa can aspire to have a voice in Egypt's future. After her composition workshops with us, hers is a voice she will lift as a friend.”
Donate to Cultures in Harmony now to sustain the hope of girls like Marwa. With your support, Cultures in Harmony will return to Egypt, Tunisia, and Pakistan in 2012.
Checks made payable to "Cultures in Harmony" may be mailed to PO Box 1244, New York, NY 10163.