Saturday, June 14, 2014


Portland is not like any American city. It is green, very green, alive and most of all full of secrets. The bus I had taken from Seattle to Portland last December also wasn't like any other bus. It was very slow, very quiet and very cold. The driver had to drive slowly since the road was very slippery, and most people in the bus were sleeping, or very sleepy. And the reason why I am using a lot the word "very" is because that part of the country succeeded in giving itself a unique image comparing to the rest of the States, an image of modernity, beauty, peculiarity and extreme love for nature.

Three hours were enough to enjoy the Washington-Oregon sights from the window. Arriving to Portland meant the beginning of an extraordinary journey in the beautiful State of Oregon. I managed to quickly find my hotel, check in and take my back bag to start wandering in the city's streets and be happy getting lost.

Like everything else, Portland's architecture is unique. So many colours, weird shapes, futuristic designs and historical statues in almost every park, made the city look like it was founded by aliens, wild animals and armies from a lost era. It was fascinating to be in such a vibrant city, a city that managed to maintain originality, beauty, sustainability and art to make life there a unique experience. The city has a lot to offer, not only for a curious tourist like myself, but also for people who have been living there for years and still can find pleasure and joy in being one of the inhabitants of Portland. 

Not too far from the city centre, I found beautiful Japanese miniature landscapes with Zen gardens around and small paths to follow. As I was strolling near the gardens, I discovered something else. It was grey, strange and a bit disturbing. A huge black wall was standing in the middle of the trees, with very small scriptures and random objects on the ground that looked like everyday items. As I was approaching the wall and as I started reading what was written, I realized that the wall was actually a memorial dedicated to victims of the Holocaust. The everyday items I saw on the ground were made of steel, they cannot be removed, they can only be seen or touched, and then remain on the ground, quietly telling the story that many survivors wanted to tell to the world. 

I paused for a moment. I realized that I was in the middle of a quiet green forest sitting in front of a violent and clamorous piece of history. I had many thoughts in mind. One of them was thinking of how fortunate I was to get to experience something like that in a city like Portland. The moment was strong, sincere and breathtaking. However, it was full of peace, love and hope. 

As I was getting ready to leave, and explore more wonders of Portland, I heard quick loud steps behind me. I saw a little child running towards me and a woman's voice suddenly said "honey wait, that is not a doll don't touch it".


That is not a doll, don't touch it

That is not a bag

These are not letters

This is not a violin

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Exceptions, peculiarities, curiousness and minorities, everywhere on the globe, are also determinants of social development. These essential elements contribute to the progress of Mankind and to the evolution of our understanding. For years, experts and academic professionals have been trying to integrate international concepts into schools, companies and communities in general. They introduced things such International Economy, World Geography, History of Southeast Asia and of course English. All these subjects have been integrated into the educational system in most of the countries with only one goal: disapproval of traditional geopolitical divisions.
What actually happened was a result of abstract concepts that only sounded promising on paper or during important speeches given by important people. The international dimensions that young people have been exposed to, proved one thing so far: most of the people accept to learn international matters because they expect that to enhance their chances of achieving their future careers in the fields they have chosen. In fact, in many cases, the knowledge they get to develop is not actually seen as a way to raise their sense of humanity, strengthen their global belonging or learn about other groups of people and all the characteristics that make them different, it is now becoming a tool to actually deal with the different types of relationships people create when they “interact” with other people who are different.
In such cases, people will find themselves able to identify how they need to adjust their behaviour to achieve the so called harmony and intercultural conversation with people from different backgrounds. This example shows that individuals learning about how to deal with each other rather than about each other fits what I have called International Dissonance, which means crossing one’s borders to discover the kind of border itself and not what exists in the other side. This misunderstanding now sets new meanings to concepts like Tolerance, Intercultural Exchange and Curiosity. These new rules are also determined by what we consider is a good culture, a beautiful language, a big country, a strong economy and even a good weather: We like to judge.
The process of reassessing all these unstable meanings is not that complicated. It needs willingness to cross borders just for the pure purpose of feeding one’s naive knowledge and curiosity that will not be used to set new imaginary intellectual borders, but to actually embrace the difference, as it is, raw, unrefined, let it be a part of one’s life, because every place is a good place. It has always been that way.