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No Man's Land

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After the Festi-Wall Team meeting in Ostritz



German-Polish border is 467 km long. The most of it is so called natural border - two rivers; the Odra (Oder), and the second is Nysa Łużycka (Lauzitzer Neisse) which flows into the first one.


Many of authorities, scholars, poets and other people that like big words speak about relations over the borders using the metaphor of bridge. "We are bulidng bridges", "we need to constract a border between us", "the bridges we have built"...
But somehow, for me, it sounds little out-fashioned. And it not fit's in todays world. One of my university teachers, Aleš Debeljak,slovenian poet and scholar for whom the decline of Jugoslavia was personally dramatic, has said only short sentence about the borders and the bridges. You could build a bridge and walk it, but you can't live on it. (The only bridge I know on wchich people actually lived was the bridge over the Drina from the novel od Nobel winning writer Ivo Andrić).


And although we have Europe without borders in which the bridges have been built and it's allowed for Polish workers to live in The Netherlands, or for German ones to live in Poland, there are still many problems to solve to live peacefully togehther. In times when the Freedom Party (Partij voor de Vrijheid) in the Netherlands establishes special internet page on which the true Netherlanders can delate on the Central- and East-Europeans and "defend" their country from the immigrants the question how to live after passing the bridge seems to be more important.


How we could build a new common space to live in?


From 10th to 12th Januar Aktion West-Ost organised first Festi-Wall team meeting. We stayed over the weekend in monastery which will be the place of our big summer meeting. I did know before that it is located at the german-polish border. But I did not know that it lays exactly on that border. If you look at the line on the closest to you paper map of Europe, Poland, Germany or Czech Republic you will see the line that covers the place. Beatifully located on the bank of Nysa river, with the view on the Polish side of border. But what was most charming for me in that place that the closter has a small island connected with land by a bridge. Island that actually lays with most of it's land inbetween two countries. In the true no man's land.


Sachsen on last weekend was a real winter wonderland full of snow and with freezing temperatures. But I was all the time trying to imagine this place in summer. Summer evenings on the no man's land with the others. Trying to imagine what we can do there to better learn how to live together and not on the two sides of the river, not connected with the bridge but with shared ground to which nobody will claim all the rigts to say "It is all mine (ours), it is only mine (ours)".

What excite me the most about the summer meeting is that we will not only learn the differences between cultures (which is most common for international youth meetings) but also we will stress on the commons. New media communication and christianity will be the grounds for communication and overcoming the differences. I hope we will learn and practice how to see each other not through cultural glasses but leave the logic of difference for the common ground level comunication (even if it would be slightly shallower communication). Maybe we will manage not to build the bridges between the cultures but to stay and live on a common island which will sail away from the lands and it's borders. To the no (particular) man's land.

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