Home News & Stories Fostering Empathy and Understanding: Highlights from our ‘Melton Meet-up Café’ 2024

Fostering Empathy and Understanding: Highlights from our ‘Melton Meet-up Café’ 2024

The Melton Meet-up Café, an initiative started by Senior Fellows from the Chile Hub in collaboration with members from the Global Solvers program was born as a result of a very critical internal process that the Melton Foundation community has been experiencing since the beginning of the genocide that has been taking place in Gaza for the last 8 months.

We recently hosted a virtual Melton Meet-up Café session, bringing together 47 Melton Fellows from around the world. The session, held on May 19th, 2024, is the start of many, focused on fostering open dialogue, empathy, and understanding, particularly in discussing humanitarian issues, resonating with Melton Fellows.

The session began with a warm welcome to all attendees, emphasizing the importance of empathy in understanding complex humanitarian challenges. Our facilitator then provided background information on the ongoing humanitarian challenges faced by Palestinians, highlighting the urgency of finding compassionate solutions.

Attendees were encouraged to share their personal experiences or insights related to the issue, fostering a diverse range of perspectives and understanding.

A key focus of the session was to identify and challenge stereotypes and misconceptions. 

Participants were encouraged to depict different groups in their minds, such as “experts,” “terrorists,” and “Muslims,” in a way similar to meditation. Through this exercise, participants described a series of feelings they had experienced, including the realization of their own biases and the impact of issues such as gender inequality on their perceptions. Some participants expressed difficulty in imagining specific portraits of certain groups due to cultural reasons, highlighting the necessity of breaking down barriers, promoting cross-cultural communication, and opposing prejudice.

 

Sagheer Ahmad shared his thoughts with us, “It’s interesting that these discussions are getting stronger in the western world, wasn’t the case some time ago. l think this conflict has also started discussions around a broader issue which is Islamophobia, affecting millions of people. Thanks for setting this up Melton Fellows.”

 

Overall, the Melton Meet-up Café session was a meaningful and insightful discussion that underscored the importance of empathy, open dialogue, and challenging stereotypes in addressing humanitarian issues. We look forward to continuing these discussions and fostering a more empathetic and understanding global community.

Due to the polarizing nature of this topic, multiple organizations have been unclear and indecisive regarding the position they should take and the statement they should make about this issue, ours included.

Therefore, this initiative was born as a necessity identified inside the group, to address relevant topics concerning our community.

The inaugural session facilitated by our Senior Melton Fellow Sofía Farah, titled “Palestine and media biases: how it influences our perspectives” allowed us to get a first hand experience of how the media has systematically tried to create a narrative of the genocide in Gaza that, by any chance is tell from the Palestinian perspective.

In 2013, Sofia joined a group of young people – all of them of Palestinian origin – for a leadership program organized by Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF). Traveling to Palestine and gaining first-hand experience about the Palestinian daily struggle triggered a transformation in her life.  Sofia decided to take action working with several different Palestinian organizations in Chile, primarily Fundación Belen 2000. Through fundraising and awareness campaigns for the Palestinian people and their cause, she has helped raise funds for humanitarian aid to be sent to Gaza and the West Bank.

Through media analysis, like the comparison of headlines from different media sources, we could visualize specific examples of the biases created by western media. We could notice how the Palestinian perspective has been rarely taken into account when talking about the genocide in Gaza, how the Palestinians are being portrait just as numbers, not being worthy of more personal and emotional stories and how the media has systematically minimizes the atrocities perpetuated by Israel through the use of euphemisms, misinformation and the fear to be called anti-Semitic.

In this instance, it was also highlighted the importance and the need of addressing this issue as an organization, given the foundation principles in which it is based on.

The session had as a direct output the scheduling of a follow up meeting in which we discussed tangible actions we can make in order to remain active on this matter.

Fabiola Jovita Norambuena Vergara shares — “I was feeling very emotional and hopeful of seeing so many old and new faces that were interested in not only getting more involved in being an active part in such an important matter, but also in keeping our community together.”

 

 

“The Melton Cafe was one of its kind experience, which delved into the intricacies of media biases and how it shapes our understanding, The discussion was very meaningful which made us question our biases and created a safe space for all the Fellows to express themselves and be heard, extremely grateful to the Fellows from Chile for creating where space where everyone is heard.”  – Fardin Pasha

 

At the Melton Foundation, we empower Global Citizens to lead grassroots projects, and enable transformative action in local communities. Get involved to discover how we support impactful initiatives and be part of our community driving positive change!

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