Meanwhile... how Sicily is showcasing refugees' cultures and art

In the tiny rural town of Sutera, locals now host a 'festival of hospitality' each August, which allows recent arrivals from Africa and the Middle East to showcase their cuisines and to entertain visitors (who come from all over Sicily) with their music and dance.

Emilio Morenatti/AP
Sub-Saharan migrants stand on the deck of the Golfo Azzurro rescue vessel as they arrive at the port of Pozzallo, south of Sicily, Italy on June 17, 2017.

In Sicily, some residents are working to showcase the new cultures and art that refugees have brought to their shores. Although the flood of refugees – at times as many as 2,000 a day in recent years – is most often viewed as a crisis, some Sicilians are coming to see it as an opportunity.

In the tiny rural town of Sutera (pop. 1,500), locals now host a “festival of hospitality” each August, which allows recent arrivals from Africa and the Middle East to showcase their cuisines and to entertain visitors (who come from all over Sicily) with their music and dance.

In October the island’s largest city, Palermo, will host its third “festival of migrant literature.” Most writers featured will be well-established figures such as Nigerian Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka and Iraqi novelist Ahmed Saadawi. But the festival’s organizers say their intent is to celebrate the stories of all migrants, including those newly arrived. “Literatures migrate with people,” they wrote. “And we welcome them and stand with them.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.