We are guilty of saying it too often about too much, but then it’s true! We are so excited about Nagina, Muzammil and Ismail. Aditi and Radha from KHOJ reached out to us earlier this year about 18+ year olds from Aagaaz, who have worked in Khirki Extension, being a part of a project supported by World Learning (USA). The project explores the dynamics of cultural identity and cultural heritage through. A group of young people from from Khirki Extension and Aagaaz have been virtually engaging with young people from New Mexico. A programme designed to create cultural exchange, two of the three from Aagaaz will travel to New Mexico in early July. Very few of the core group members fit the criteria, specially the former. The three of them, though are constantly bringing in their learnings from the journey to the rest of us. Watching the project from the fringes, we leave you to read what those directly involved in the process have to say.
Aditi Chauhan, KHOJ
Diversity of rituals belonging to clusters of human population worldwide has created behavioural references that continue to outline our identities, passed on with a purpose of persisting through time. While the celebration of this diversity has found more enthusiasts now more than ever, the virtual proximity across space alluding to ideas of globalization has also seen great resistance and adverse reactions to migration of cultures. The necessity for documents validating and defining our identity (simultaneously accentuating the difference) in a particular place restricts movement of expressions and interactions.
Redefining the margins and tracing the routes back to cultural heritage and cultural identity, youth in the neighbourhoods of New Delhi and New Mexico are collaborating through a virtual exchange program titled Voices From the Margins. This community arts initiative by Khoj International Artists Association and Global One to One (USA) supported by World Learning (USA) as a part of their global project Communities Connecting Heritage seeks to preserve and promote longevity of cultural heritage by engaging with youths worldwide through creative mediums of expression.
The eight members of the team from New Delhi represent a vivid network of socio ethnic communities existing in the city and hailing from different Indian states and countries. Ashif Khan, Ismail, Nagina, Muzammil, Leeda Ferozy, Romeo Kiseke, Suraj Tamoli and Yanki Lhamu Bhutia will navigate their ways to understanding their identities and resolving conflicts through discussions and exercises in spoken and written word format, illustrations and performing arts. Teams from both the countries have been interacting virtually, bringing to fore varied interpretations of the margins, sharing specificities of their heritage and identity, similarities and unique perspectives on issues that concern the youth from diverse backgrounds in different situations and spaces. This four month long project will conclude with an in person exchange of both teams and exhibition in June, 2018, with the aim of encouraging this dialog in public and personal spaces and facilitate the creation of a more receptive environment to cultural diversity and preserve the heritage that outlines our identities.
Nagina, Aagaaz Core Group Member
The team members from Aagaaz have some very interesting insights to offer. 18 year old Nagina explains that she never analysed her heritage so closely. ‘Voices from the Margins’ has helped her see how much her everyday life is influenced by the hand-me-downs of her heritage. She talks about something as simple as her surname and religion and goes on to her something as complex as her angry temperament. Interacting with a diverse group of people, has also managed to increase her awareness about the difficulties one faces due to migration and racism.
Ismail, Aagaaz Core Group Member
19 year old Ismail expresses the joy he experienced while talking to the exchange students in New Mexico via virtual means. He claims that the interaction was his favourite moment since it managed to defy the need for common spoken language. His words indicate that the two groups of young people found common ground, in being strangers to each others’ worlds.
Muzammil, Aagaaz Core Group Members
Muzammil, who is of similar age chose to talk about the long term impacts of being a part of such a program. As a performer who is keenly interested in theatre direction, he looks at this as an opportunity to find relevant thematic areas. He has been observing the exercise that they are doing around creating an ideal state, and is specifically interested in going deeper into the challenges they are facing in the process. He feels that they throw light on the current state of humanity, which has possibilities for dramatic exploration.