I was lucky enough to be chosen to attend one of the Fulbright Enrichment Seminars for the year 2015. The focus of this seminar was on the arts and civic engagement. During the four days of the seminar I was engaged with people, both guest speakers and participants, who decided to take a step beyond the limitation of their boundaries and build bridges of love and compassion to communicate their dream of love and peace with their communities and make the world a better place. I learned that the bridges could take different forms; one example being a paint brush that assists people from outcastcommunities to express themselves on the walls and change the face of the city into a more expressive and lively one through mural artworks. Now, the walls of Philadelphia tell different stories of resilience, diversity and coexistence of Philadelphia’s inhabitants.
I was also moved by the flow of the communication amongst us, the participants of the seminar. We all stepped beyond the limitations of our gender, race, language, and color to know one another. What I witnessed in this gathering was more than tolerance. It was love and acceptance of one another. During the seminar, I found myself wearing my earrings that are inscribed with a line of verse that says in Arabic, “ جمعنا الحب فماذا يفرقنا”, which means if love bonds us, nothing can make us apart. We were bound by love and the many beautiful memories and moments that we shared during the various activities we did together in the seminar.
For me, one of the most influential moments was during the movement workshop led by Rebecca Davis, founder and executive director of MindLeaps. Rebecca shared with us her experience that demonstrates the power of communicating emotions and thoughts through physical movements. Using this philosophy, her program shifted the lives of street boys into more productive and meaningful ones. As a final activity to the workshop, Rebecca asked groups to create a dance move that expressed a collective thought or feeling of the group. My group, a diverse group of people from Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, and the UK, decided to lift me up in the air! I was lifted by universal love. This moment was gloriously liberating and unifying to all of us. I will always cherish this memory that filled my heart with peace and joy.
Maaly Younis is an Egyptian Fulbrighter who is pursuing an MA in Educational Psychology at University of Northern Colorado.