Creative intercultural dialogue - Big Jump Challenge - Toolbox

Creative inter-cultural dialogue

One aim of the Youth Network for River Action is to collaborate across boundaries. How can we foster inter-cultural dialogue among young Europeans? How can we bridge language barriers?


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What is inter-cultural dialogue?

International and inter-cultural dialogue promotes the connection among cultures and societies. It is a way of helping people get to know each other more and creates relations and productive communication while overcoming language barriers. International dialogue fosters solidarity across cultures and nations so that joint work on common issues is promoted while differences are respected.

Why do we need such dialogue for water conservation?

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) was initiated to improve the ecological and chemical quality of water bodies in member countries of the EU. This progressive goal has not be met by 2015.

Many of our rivers such as the Danube, Elbe or Rhine flow across several countries and cultures, so joint action is needed. Moreover, production and consumption in Europe are closely linked: the way we eat in one place depends on the way food is produced (and water treated) in another place.

Finally, even if there were not these geographical and economic links, the idea of solidarity in a union is to support each other where challenges arise. 

Why should art be of any help here?

Europe is not only a continent of many beautiful rivers and lakes, it is also a continent with a wealth of different languages. Art can facilitate communication with partner groups across linguistic barriers. It is as an alternative way for you to express yourself. People of the same age may have the same points of view. If they express these views in a drawing they might be able to understand each other regardless of their nationality. Creativity can help you share your culture and learn about others. If you have a common goal that you are working on with others it can help you feel supported. The realization there are other people with the same struggle can strengthen your faith and compassion to reach a particular goal. And last but not least, creating a piece of art will help you to provide a gift to your partner.


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Session 1: Paint your river or lake

Drawing is a fun way of sending a message! So get started and find a place: You can paint in a room but you can also organize the session outside at your river or lake. This gives you an opportunity to observe your water, its changing colours, its movement, and also to express your emotions and ideas. You can also use the water of your river or lake to paint.

Inform yourself in advance about your river, problems and challenges of your river, or stories that people tell about your river or lake. What is special about your river or lake? In what way do you care about it? What images come to your mind, if you discuss in group your river or lake?

Don’t forget to take pictures of your paintings before you send them to your partner!

Session 2: T-shirt design

Another option is to design T-shirts. Big Jump T-shirts are a practical way to announce your jump in advance, and they can also be used during the Big Jump. For example, if you wear Big Jump T-shirts during your Big Jump, this can help you to indicate the organizing team and it can also be used during the jump into the water to highlight that this is a fun activity with a message to others. Wearing a T-shirt with a slogan or symbol makes this visually clear, thereby helping journalists and others to take pictures and report on your action. 

Exchanging T-shirts is a way to support your partner team. Getting a present is a way to  feel supported and loved by other groups of people.

Please take a look at the instructions of “painting on cloth” on the website address below: When you paint your T-shirt, put some old pieces of cloth or other material in your T-shirt so that the colour does not seep to the other side of the T-shirt.

Note: T-shirt production is water intensive. Many people have T-shirts at home that they no longer use. Why not reuse T-shirts by collecting them from friends and families for your T-shirt design action? If you buy T-shirts, look for T-shirts that are produced in an ecological and social way, or buy them second hand!

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More ideas for t-shirt designs:

More about the idea of solidarity animating our network, and how we collaborated in small acts of concrete solidarity in our 2015 report "Big Jump Challenge 2015 - small acts of concrete solidarity in times of European crises".


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