Intercultural day in San Esteban de Gormaz (Spain): Creating a community of practice through social theater and a photo exhibition

On Saturday, May 28, Cepaim Foundation together with the Association of Maghrebi Women of San Esteban de Gormaz, AISHA, and in collaboration with the City Council of San Esteban, organised an intercultural day in San Esteban de Gormaz (Province of Soria, Spain), as part of the Welcoming Spaces project. The day was a way to create spaces of coexistence, generate improbable encounters and advance the path of our Community of Practice, connecting different localities across different continents through a photo exhibition and theater.

The photographic exhibition sought to make visible those objects that connect us with our roots – root us to our identity. Being aware that culture is something that accompanies us wherever we go, with this photographic tour, the AISHA Association wanted to share their cultures traditions and their identities with the rest of the village to exchange and learn from each other and construct together something new.

The exhibition reflected on who we are in order to reach new common horizons, inviting all participants to answer the question: What would you take with you if you had to leave your country?

The photographs were exhibited throughout the day and welcomed the participants to the Forum Theater “Arab Women among Cultures” that represented the company La Rueda Social Theater in the Assembly Hall of the Old Schools. Taking Welcoming Spaces as a starting point, the play was co-created by the AISHA Association and La Rueda, and reflected on the lived experiences of those living in the same locality.

This social theater, which involved the entire audience in the performance, managed to generate a debate around the situation of inclusion in the village. The theater sought to achieve mutual understanding, to eliminate negative beliefs and stereotypes, and to create a bond between all by finding common representations. In the words of one of the women of the Association: “it is very difficult to migrate and sometimes a small gesture, an attitude of incomprehension feels very big and makes our backpack heavier. With this work we wanted to try to understand how we can feel sometimes.” The play managed to generate that necessary understanding and bring the different positions closer together, reflecting together on how we could face different situations from the variety of our positions. The play ended with a round of wishes with proposals to continue building together a more welcoming village.

Both the photo exhibition and the social theater contributed to creative ways how to make visible the invisible, name and share the things that hurt us, and generate bridges that help us understand and improve when it comes to creating welcoming spaces. It started a conversation between all locals, both newcomers and long-term-residents.