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Reading and Screening Across the Villages

Published: December 14, 2021

This season, Concordia Language Villages' Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility team invites you to join them, in a spirit of reflection, at the library and the movies.

The purpose of this elective monthly exercise is to "read across the Villages": to build empathy and insight through consumption of creative works from storytellers around the world. Stories, research shows, foster empathy and connection, transporting readers into the minds of  people very different from (and yet, just like) themselves (see Beth Ann Fennelly's excellent TED Talk on the subject for more).  

The team has chosen a series of texts and films that address the issues they have been discussing over the past year, drawing from a variety of different languages. Themes of heritage and identity, as well as conflict and change, unite the chosen pieces.  Through these works, we can continue to expand our understanding diversity, equity and inclusion issues as they pertain to the many cultures with which we engage.

Songs that Flood the River. Oneida was a child when she learned how to sing alabados, traditional funeral songs used by black communities in Colombia to secure a safe return to the realm of the souls. When she was eight years old, a snake devoured her left leg, leaving her for life in a village set deep in the jungle and stricken by the terror of war. In 2002, her village suffered one of the most cruel massacres in the country. Oneida fights her fears by writing songs that use the melody of alabados over lyrics that portray her reality. Her scars are the source of her strength and her songs are the voice of millions that claim for peace in one of the longest wars in history.  This film is presented in Spanish, with English subtitles available, and touches on issues relevant to Concordia Language Villages' Spanish Language Community. 


Sami Blood. Sami Blood follows Elle-Marja, a young Sami girl who is sent to a special boarding school at which she is expected to learn about, and accept, her culture's supposed inferiority. Rebelling against the low expectations placed upon her, Elle-Marja fights to pursue a real education and integrate into Swedish society, leave rural Lapland . . . and her heritage . . . behind her. This film is presented in Swedish and Sami, with English subtitles available, and addresses issues particularly relevant to the Norwegian and Swedish Language Communities. 


Escaping Wars and Waves. From 2013 to 2017, journalist and cartoonist Olivier Kugler accompanied Doctors Without Borders on missions to support Syrian refugees spread out across Iraqi Kurdistan, Greece, France, Switzerland and England. He collected interviews and photographs that became the base for this graphic novel, in which the improvised living conditions of the refugee camps, and the individual narratives of refugees and those assisting them, come to life through sketches and quotes. The sketchbook-like quality of the images reflects the uncertain futures of the Syrian refugee community, whose story is not yet finished. This graphic novel is presented in English, and tackles questions particularly relevant to the Arabic Language Community. 

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