For years I believed that we were all united by commonalities. That the fact the we all endeavoured to eat three times a day and have certain nice things and basic necessities were uniting factors (and that, as a consequence, we could latch on to these things and be brought together).
But I soon realized that what drew me to people as I have traveled the world over the years are our differences. Do we want to be around people who share all of our interests, or is learning and education a dynamic tension between our senses of self and the differences that surround us?
I took this picture a week ago in Stockholm because I was drawn to the amazing colours of the farmer’s market in Östermalm. But as I’ve stared at it, I realize that what really drew to me to shoot the picture was that every worker at the market was an immigrant to Sweden. They came to Sweden because they were drawn in by safety, an opportunity to belong to a larger collective, a chance to re-invent themselves, to be something they’ve always imagined being.
I went hiking recently and was amazed at how different things looked than I had anticipated. We go into events in our lives with sets of expectations. We expect things to be the same as they were before, which is why we’re attracted to things to which we can relate. But on this hike everything seemed different – the colours, textures, the feel and texture of the ground. And it was comforting that somehow I perceived things differently. These differences united my senses in a very real sense.
In Stockholm, I thought a lot about the idea of bridges. If you’ve never had the great good fortune to visit one of the most amazing cities in the world (and, yes, a THINK Global School city in Year One) Stockholm is actually a city of 14 islands. And it’s through bridges that the city is physically united. But the islands, of course, unite very different parts of the city. The differences between Östermalm and Södermalm, for example, are huge. One is very upscale and I would say even elegant, while the other is quirky and real and equally beautiful.
So maybe as people and cultures, bridges allow us to overcome our differences and unite us. We at THINK Global School have been working really hard since January to build these bridges throughout the world and we’ve done so with your help. So, a massive “thanks!” to everyone who has taken the time to email us, meet with us and send suggestions. And, please, keep it coming!