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Exploring Intercultural Futures: New Year, New Blog Theme!

For 2022, I am looking to curate blog posts that explore #Intercultural #Futures. The possibility to explore, examine, enhance and embrace our various and collective intercultural future, a consequence of the globalization and transcultural migration of peoples, markets, jobs, identities, technologies, products and hopes and dreams, is exciting.

It also allows me to go beyond the usual confines of intercultural training and development to think of how intercultural knowledge and perspectives can be combined to explore the notion of the #future, and #futurism and how we are individually and collectively shape the #worlds we inhabit (or seek to).

For inspiration, I will be exploring #art, #film, #literature, #journalism, #animation, #virtualreality, #design, #games, and various #technologies to see how humans are fabricating #intercultural experiences, stories and worlds.

For my first post of 2022, I share this story about a Roman Catholic Portuguese janitor from Madeira, Braulio Rocha, often teased growing up for having a Black maternal grandmother, who dropped out of school, worked at a waiter, and one day met a Portuguese-Canadian Montrealer. Rocha finds romance and emigrates to Montreal. There, through family ties, and in part due to his non-existent French, he found a job as a janitor in local synagogue.

You can already see the #intercultural, inter-#faith, #interracial juxtapositions here: Portuguese/Quebecois/Montrealer/Catholic upbringing/janitor in Jewish house of worship (and oh, Black maternal grandmother).

Yet, one day, this janitor, Mr Rocha, subs in for an absent photographer to take pictures for a baby's bris, or ritual circumcision. As the New York Times story describes:

Brisses soon led to bar mitzvahs, and six years later, Mr. Rocha, a 45-year-old Roman Catholic, has been called the bar mitzvah photography king of Montreal by rabbis and clients alike.
Mr. Rocha, who had never met a Jew before setting foot in Montreal’s Shaar Hashomayim synagogue in 2015, is now so in demand that he sometimes shoots five bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies a week, is booked for bar mitzvahs into 2023, and employs a team of eight assistant photographers. He recently expanded into Hasidic weddings.

The cantor at the Shaar Hashomayim synagogue, Gideon Zelermyer, sees it as an essential Jewish story:

“There is a virtue in our community of welcoming strangers as we, too, were strangers in a strange land,” he said. “That is the story of Passover. There are times when you have to dust yourself off and move forward with life with a lot of uncertainty, and Braulio embodies that.”

However, I also see it as Rocha embracing his #intercultural #future! Rocha, a new Portuguese Canadian reinvents himself in Canada, sets off building the Canadian dream, but does so by embracing a unique opportunity, an unforeseeable intercultural future for himself and his new family as a bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah photographer! The intercultural embrace, however, goes on both sides, as Montreal's Jewish community welcomes this outsider to document their intimate spiritual and sacred moments. Beyond the cultural and religious crossings, Rocha's photographs, as the New York Times story documents, are beautiful, inspired by far-reaching, cinematic aesthetics, including that of Tim Burton and the film, Raiders of the Lost Ark!

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