EMBRACE AND BRIDGE DIFFERENCES

Our friends from Radical Partners invite you to talk about the uncomfortable things and explain why it is healthy for our humanity

By Yulia Strokova, Samantha Schalit



The human experience is most powerful when people discover their shared humanity instead of dwelling on their differences. To explore this, we need a safe environment where we can discuss taboo topics freely, be vulnerable, and listen to what others say. Finding these healthy opportunities – beyond social media and its oftentimes detrimental comments feed – is essential to developing empathy and compassion within our communities.

The 10 Days of Connection, powered by Radical Partners, is the perfect starting point to embrace differences. From May 1 to May 10, more than 170 community organizations present immersive, connecting experiences to help you strengthen your empathy muscle. Join events curated for people of all backgrounds and ages, where you can hear stories by LGBTQ+ youth, go for a culture walk around Little Haiti, gather around a fire circle, take a healing dance workshop, or issue the virtual race card.


“People continue to be increasingly divided across lines of differences. This is why we challenge the community to step out of their comfort zone or their silos and bubbles. We empower the host committee to create those safe spaces to collide, express themselves freely and learn from each other. This is how we can celebrate our differences and strengthen the diverse South Florida we all love to live in,” says Luisana Zambrano Diaz, the young and passionate program manager of the 10 Days of Connection.


“We are from here, but from somewhere else”

Luisana was born and raised in Venezuela. In 2015, she moved to the United States to study at Florida International University. A genuine passion for communities and social entrepreneurship brought her to the StartUP FIU and the Global Shapers Miami Hub, a network of young changemakers. Through that social innovation work, Luisana met Joan Godoy, Executive Director of Radical Partners.

“Being radical, for me, means making change within our communities. And we do it through our leadership development programs, through building coalitions to make our engaged community stronger. Radical Partners' beauty is that it is always collective, and everybody plays a role in making the change that we want to see in the community.”

These days, Luisana, with her colleagues, is finalizing the agenda of the 10 Days of Connection. The calendar is updated every day. Everyone can pick the topic, date, and even location (physical or virtual) to safely escape their own bubbles and learn from a neighbor who might look different; who might have a different social status or have come up in a different age; a neighbor born in Miami, or one who took a long way to get here.

“What makes Miami unique it's the merging of different cultures; you can be in the room with someone who is from Bolivia, Honduras, Colombia, China, or Nigeria, and that is beautiful to hear different accents and embrace the fact that we are from here, but also from somewhere else,” says Luisana.

“But at the same time, this diversity could be challenging; it requires extra personal work to understand where you're coming from, why you are doing some things differently, or thinking and speaking in another way. When I got here, I had a very thick accent, and I know it caused some misunderstanding. It took three years to embrace my personal difference.”

Luisana learned openmindedness, perseverance, and resilience from her parents.

“I never thought so deeply about my national identity and how all of that influenced who I am as a person until I moved to the US."


To our question, what makes her proud of her Venezuelan roots, she answers:


"I would describe the Venezuelan community as very collective. We love talking with people, asking how they are doing. It’s natural to have a conversation with a stranger, neighbor, or cashier. We remain very positive, resilient, working hard, and make things happen despite the challenges we are passing through. I see the same here.


People I met through Radical Partners and the 10 Days of Connection always care about the things they do, the programs and businesses they run; they care about bringing these conversations to our communities to help bridge differences and embrace all the ways we are unique."


https://www.10daysofconnection.org/