“Find up to three commonalities among all people in your group within the next ten minutes”, says Minjae*.

The children and young people had already transformed the space. They had joined together in groups and formed circles of chairs everywhere. A different setting from our usual meetings. It felt refreshing to me. Now, I can hear the young people animatedly talk and see them listening to each other in their groups, following Minjae’s proposal. And I become aware, that a lot of empathy is at work here: How does each group manage that everyone in it can have a say? Do they mutually manage the utilization of time? Do they get to know each other in general first or start looking for commonalities straight away? May everyone reduce their messaging and pass over to the next to ensure all of them are being heard?

“One more minute!”,

says Minjae via the microphone. The childrensĀ“ talks continue lively. After a while Minjae asks: “OK, what commonalities did you find among each other?” and starts sprinting towards a first group of kids that raises their hands. – “We’ve found that we all love to dance and that we all like music a lot.” – “Great!”, comments Minjae and bounces to the next group: “What do you have in common with each other?” – Someone stands up and answers on behalf of the group:

“We have found that we all come from different countries. We also have in common that each of us speaks several languages…”

Wow! I was immediately moved, for I had just caught myself with my own biased opinion: Associating the term commonality too quickly with “similarity”. Yet, this interpretation caught me by surprise. I keep telling myself: To remember this twist & to challenge my own comfort, times and times again!

Diversity and difference as a common factor and possible strength.

*Minjae works in a research group for Ultrafast Spectroscopy. In her research she focuses on optical control of high temperature superconductivity.

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