Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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AMMAN — From workshops and games for children to traditional Iraqi dabke, Sudanese dance and music performances, visitors to the Festival of Encounter (FoE) should expect a celebration of the diversity of Jordan’s refugee and migrant communities.

The festival’s second iteration will be held this Friday and Saturday in commemoration of World Refugee Day, marked annually on June 20. The festival’s first edition was hosted by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), an international Catholic organisation that advocates for refugees and vulnerable communities. This year, UNESCO has joined JRS as a co-host.

JRS communications and advocacy manager Silvia Mazzocchin told The Jordan Times that this festival seeks “to create this space again and this beautiful moment” following the success of last year’s event.

“Our inspiration to co-host the FoE this year stems from our conviction that sustainable development relies on a strong cultural component,” UNESCO Representative to Jordan, Min Jeong Kim, said in a statement sent to The Jordan Times.

“By creating opportunities for encounter, dialogue and sharing, the FoE serves as a platform for building bridges of mutual understanding, empathy and inclusion among communities that have experienced displacement,” Kim added. Eventgoers will find a colourful and diverse space celebrating the refugee and migrant communities from Yemen, Sudan, Syria, Somalia, Eritrea, the Philippines, Iraq and Palestine, according to Mazzocchin.

Activities for children and teenagers will be held throughout the two-day festival, followed by live music and traditional dance performances. A bazaar with hand-made products will be sold during the event, alongside a cultural fair where members of the refugee communities will display traditional clothes and share stories from their homelands. The festival will conclude with talks titled, “Giving back to the community”, during which change-makers from different fields within refugee and migrant communities will share their experiences engaging in community work to inspire others, Mazzocchin said.

“Through the FoE, we aim to promote cross-cultural skills and facilitate an environment where different cultures can flourish and thrive together. By fostering respect, understanding and open dialogue, we contribute to lasting peace and the development of a more inclusive society,” Kim said. Kim noted that recognising and honouring refugee and migrant communities in an increasingly interconnected and globalised world creates a space where their voices can be heard, celebrated and empowered. “The FoE holds immense significance as it brings together refugee, migrant and local communities to celebrate their cultural and artistic expressions,” Kim added.

The festival will be held at the Lady of Nazareth College in Jabal Hussein from 1 pm to 8:30 pm on June 23 and 24.

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