Text: Nicole Asis [PH] | Based on Mini-Forum Report: Vanusa Coutinho [BR] | Photos: Monte Azul [BR]
Monte Azul organized a Mini-Forum on Empathy “From Reflection to Action: How to Contribute to a Fairer Global Society” last 24-26 August 2018 in São Paulo, Brazil. 100 people coming from different countries attended the event. This impulse sprung out of SIF Japan 2018, where the Forum explored how Empathy can be a path towards knowing your Self through Others and how this process leads us towards building a just and fraternal society.
Monte Azul Coordinator Vanusa Coutinho said that the idea for the Mini-Forum in Monte Azul came about after returning from the Forum in Japan held last April 2018. Vanusa shared that this impulse was felt when they returned to Brazil with the mission of sowing the seeds they received there. She added, “After all, the need for action nowadays is urgent.”
The 3-day Forum was opened by ESF Administrative Officer Regina Wrasse, as she spoke about the importance of the youth’s participation in different social initiatives all over the world. This opportunity gives the young people space, not only to show their strengths and capabilities, but more so to be in contact with the world, reflect on the realities of our time, and act accordingly.
Monte Azul Founder and SIF Co-Founder Ute Craemer shared that social initiatives and impulses are birthed out of the strength of the human being and the innate Empathy he/she has for the other to address the social struggles experienced and witnessed in the world. She emphasized that Empathy, once awakened in humanity, can lead to action that can be a transformative force in Society.
Tokai University Professor Daisuke Onuki deepened the theme by reflecting on the history of Empathy and looking at the diverse cultures and customs of showing this in the world. He explored the different ways of greeting from across nations and cultures as a standpoint; and made the participants experience the various ways of meeting— how souls connect despite the differences, how this greeting can be a first step in expressing empathy towards the Other. He reiterated that it is important for the human being to live in a constant process of learning how to be more empathic towards another human being because that is the essence of our humanity.
The Mini-Forum ended with a sharing from Freunde Emergency Pedagogy Coworker Reinaldo Nascimento, where he talked about interventions he worked within countries experiencing trauma due to calamities, poverty, or war. He encouraged the participants to take a “conscious look” on the work at hand since this conscious act is what Empathy is all about.
The Mini-Forum was enriched with cultural activities (Forró), small-group reflections, open space for social initiatives, and a “Lantern Walk” with singing in the nearby communities.
The Mini-Forum in Monte Azul provoked “reflection and action” in the participants; provided a space for people to “truly meet” the other despite differences in culture, age, and creed; and shared a message of “Peace” to the nearby communities paved by the light of the lanterns held by the hand and warmed by the heartfelt singing of everyone. Empathy was not only talked about in the Mini-Forum in Monte Azul, but it was reflected upon and experienced by the participants through engaging dialogues and soulful encounters that took place in the 3-day event. Truly, the seeds of Empathy that had been sown in São Paolo would grow, not only in Brazilian soil but also in different parts of the world. And this start makes us hopeful that the world will be a better place to live in, and we are on our way.
“Language is not a barrier when Empathy is present. Regardless of age, nationality, social position, creed, profession, etc., we were there in a meeting of souls.”
– Vanusa Coutinho (BR), Monte Azul Coordinator
Italicized texts are quoted from Vanusa Coutinho’s Mini Fórum Report. To read about the Mini-Forum, the inspiring seeds that were planted in São Paolo, and the human connections built, read Vanusa’s article here.
To know more about Monte Azul and get the latest updates on their 4oth anniversary celebration, visit their website.