One of my great joys is to start working with a group and realize that it is composed of young people of different nationalities. Long live diversity!
Cultural differences should be an opportunity to evolve and progress in many ways. Being able to broaden our knowledge means accepting other points of view, understanding them and reflecting on them. The cultural richness, which is created when very different cultures mix, is enormous. We have seen it throughout history.
My sports career has allowed me to share countless experiences with teammates from all over the world. I was able to learn about topics as diverse as: culture, gastronomy, politics, religion, equality, economy or education. Diversity was always an advantage in the teams I played for and I think those years marked our personality in a positive way by making us more open-minded.
The differences between emotional and intellectual features are already plausible in a class of 30 students. Knowing how to manage these differences with a neutral approach, where these traits are respected and the minds of young people are broadened, will mark how they face situations where they have to make difficult decisions to solve problems. Here we will see if what moves them is the most patriotic feeling or if on the contrary, they are moved by common sense. We must be proud of where we come from, always. We must not forget our roots or our traditions, but we must understand that in the same way, there are other cultures that think the same way. In order not to close ourselves off from our own culture, we must accept, respect, find ways to live together and help each other.
At Share & Play we have already started the new season in Germany and we have a new group of young people with whom we work every week. The diversity we are facing is enormous: 32 children, more than 10 different nationalities, some of them don’t speak German language yet, only 10% of them practice some sport, lack of physical condition, lack of teamwork habit, cultural differences, etc.
In short, they are like a blank sheet of paper. The direction they take now will depend partly on factors such as: their ability to adapt, the interest they show in the process, collaboration and above all solidarity. These factors will mark out a path which may end up in very different destinations.
When we are a certain age, we need to unlearn in order to learn new concepts, we have to erase from our memory information or beliefs that have become obsolete and prevent us from evolving. With young people this is not the case, they are at such an important stage of development that we can begin to build a solid foundation that will allow them to grow and adapt to any environment or culture.
This is above all the responsibility of the parents, but external help is not bad, especially if it is neutral, if it is supported by scientific studies and if it is carried out by professionals from the world of sport who can help children see cultural differences as magical tools that allow them to have valuable opinions and approaches.
In these moments of uncertainty, where nobody knows the way we will live in 10 years, if we will have to face more political crises, more humanitarian crises or continue to face global pandemics, we must remember something: it is in our hands to understand each other and help each other. Let us value the diversity of our friends and teammates so that when we grow up, we will enjoy a global vision that allows us to work together naturally thanks to our principles and skills.
Difference is the essence of humanity. Difference is an accident of birth, and it should therefore never be the source of hatred or conflict. Therein lies a most fundamental principle of peace: respect for diversity.
― John Hume