Author:Ai??Elisabeth Obeng O.
Madrid, 5 am. Here I am, sitting in one of the many halls of this enormous airport, thinking of how many young people are in my same situation and how many of them have had the same experience. I spent a few days in LogroAi??o, at a friendai??i??s place and it was there that I found out that actually Europe is similar in its innermost diversity. I met young people, who have lived in Spain for many years; people with different and far origins, from all over the world, that were having that particular cultural heritage of traditions, ways of being and living that still were reflected in their thoughts and in their lives.
I was born in Italy to Ghanaian parents. I have two worlds in my life and two cultures in my soul. Sometimes, they clash and in other moments they go hand by hand, almost as if to form a new culture. Often I found myself in trouble, struggling to figure out what is needed to be done and what not, how and why; on one hand they, the family traditions, that perhaps you do not even understand or pretend not to understand because you know that you prefer the “other culture”; on the other hand, you feel different in certain things but in others you perfectly recognise yourself in that culture that has welcomed you. However, all this confusion disappears at a particular point and seems to have never existed. You are unexpectedly able to find a balance, a way to answer your questions and give certainty to your doubts, a way to understand that the situation that you are in, represents a new culture of European multicultural innovation.
I am not thinking only of the second-generation ai???children of immigrationai???, but I am also referring to children whose parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and so on, have always lived in European countries. Yes, because I feel it in the words of my friends, I see in their gestures that some of what is in them can be found in me. New fashions, new ways of thinking, jokes and the words themselves are testimony of the fact that cultures that are arriving in Europe are leaving small but decisive footprints. I am referring to new feelings, that perhaps we do not realise we are feeling because they are already rooted in our identities, but which are crucial in representing all European youth of recent times.
Now even young people with different skin colour are European. It may seem obvious, but it is not for many. It often happens that people do not approach me just because they feel that I do not know how to speak their language; and in those cases with a gentle smile, being aware of the amazing reaction that I could give rise to, I ask “Can I help you?” with a perfect accent. Here is where I love to admire the change of expression on their faces: surprise! We should get used to this reaction. Yes, because the amazement is the first emotion that awakens the mind, the one that like a lightning strike, makes you see things in a new and different way.
From all these emotions, experiences and feelings, two years ago the project “PEOPLE of ABEU” (of AfrickBegins) was born. The driving idea is that despite our different cultural backgrounds, we are all linked by common elements. Those elements that are created spontaneously as a response to a personal need, thus, passions. In this way, there is the growth of new, wonderful and exciting European identities with great potential that can receive, and above all, give fantastic emotions.
Learning from other cultures brings great richness; the coexistence of multiple ways of interpreting life is the necessary tool to dominate any possible cultural conflict. The reciprocal acceptance and understanding, the curiosity and the sheer willingness to learn from different people are the bases for a culturally prosperous future.
So, that morning in Madrid, sitting there in one of the many halls of that enormous airport, I realised that I was not alone in that situation, but I was and I am still in the midst of a Europe that has all the requirements to let this wonderful situation become one of the best opportunities ever, an example for all of us, young Europeans.