Complex Guests | I SEE YOU

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I SEE YOU are three very powerful words. 

Now, allow me to share three powerful stories, that have moved my world. 

Story 1: They don’t even know who I am

I held a creative workshop two years ago for displaced children from Syria. We discussed their various experiences of being away from home, their hopes and dreams. While most shared stories of missing their homes, friends, and toys: one little boy’s pleas spoke to my heart. 

“All I want is for people to see me, and stop looking at me through their eyes of seeing me as a refugee. They don’t even know who I am.”

I had tears in my eyes and composed myself so that he would not notice. But this little boy simply wanted to be acknowledged, and not seen as a stereotype.

Story 2: The Other versus One of us

The second story relates to my own experience of exchange with a little girl, whom I noticed staring at me, while I was taking a walk. She then asked me why my skin colour was so dark and I shared with her a story that my mother told with me when I was a child, trying to make sense of the world. I told her that people come in different colours, shapes and sizes much like flowers. Her response moved me: "Does that mean that you are just a normal lady like my Mom?" With my affirmation, she gave me a hug and a smile before running off. That short interaction turned me from “the other” to “one of”.

Story 3: Atwater and Elis 

I recently read a story about the friendship between Ann Atwater, An African American Civil rights activist and C.P. Ellis a former KKK member. 

Ellis denounced his racist views and leadership post of the KKK after having had the chance to exchange with Atwater. We began to talk about what was on our heart, and both of us wept. Instead of seeing the world through their stereotypical worldview, they realised how much they had in common as individuals with similar values and hopes for themselves and their children. Their interaction and focus on what they had in common changed their entire worldview of the other.

By allowing ourselves to really see someone; we acknowledge them as co-creators of and in this world. We are all shaping the world in which we want for ourselves, children and generations thereafter. 

This, acknowledgement, I believe can form a basis towards creating a more peaceful world. As a mother, I have a vision for the type of world in which I would love my children to be raised. That vision is a peaceful one, where we can all feel safe and can flourish. Is it just a silly idealistic non-achievable utopia?

What I do know, is that I have an urge to make my contribution. However small it may be. I do believe that it is necessary to initiate and fuel dialogue to consider broader identities that can embrace others and unify groups; to consider values as a foundation of peace.

So, let us keep our eye on that vision and keep the conversation going.

Books have power!

My most favourite book as a child was and still is To Kill a Mockingbird. This book profoundly affected the way in which I see the world today. As a mother, I realise even more how powerful books can be in inspiring our children with the values that we find most important.

Inspired by the stories mentioned above, I have  created a series of picture books. They are my way on contributing towards the dialogue in the hope that it inspires children to be aware of unites us all, whether is it through the food we eat, the hopes we share or the things we do.

The title of the first picture book is called: I SEE YOU: about Bobby the Bear, who takes the reader on a journey to the unknown. I See You is a way of seeing the world around us and this book is a reminder that there is always something that you can find in common with someone else. If we use that as a starting point to our communication, we can establish a solid ground upon which peaceful interaction can develop.

My vision is to use this book as a first step in creating a publishing house that publishes books and media that reflect the diversity that exists within this world, inspires curiosity and nourishes empathy.

I am self-self-publishing this book and have launched a pre-sale Idiegogo crowd-fund to facilitate the printing and publication of the book. It is going well thus far, but we have not reached the goal yet! Therefore I would appricieate your support.

Nana Addison