Promoting Tolerance Programme in the Eyes of Marek Tatala
I have been analyzing the issue of populism for some time and the “Promoting Tolerance” program enabled me to learn more about populism in the US (but also in countries of other participants) and its various causes. Seminars (both online and in Berlin) and the study trip to the US also invigorated my thinking about potential solutions and responses to populism and populists, which seems very important in the process of confronting intolerance around the world today.
I have learned about the “Promoting Tolerance” program for the first time from the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (Prague office), when they encouraged me to submit the application. I am grateful for this information and I am very happy that I decided to apply. I read about the program before submitting my application and it looked interesting but what was especially important for me was the topic of the program: “Confronting Bigotry and Intolerance in the Face of Rising Populism”.
As a classical liberal I do not agree with everything that I have heard during the study trip and I am aware that some people that we met have probably different views about the role of freedom (including economic freedom) or the governments’ involvement in people’s lives. Nevertheless, I think it is extremely important nowadays, when so many people are stuck only in their information bubbles, to talk to people with different views, to challenge our own ideas, and to participate in thought-provoking discussions. It is a great advantage of the “Promoting Tolerance” program that participants have a chance to meet so diversified group of speakers.
A few impressions about the places we visited. Washington D.C. was a perfect warm-up for the whole trip, with interesting meetings and opportunity to learn more about the rest of the group.
In New York I have learned a lot about the importance of multi-faith and multicultural cooperation. It was also great to visit the Sesame Street workshops to hear about their educational projects and to experience crowded streets of New York and some magnificent views.
What was surprising for me about Miami is how large and vibrant is the local Jewish community. It was a great fun to enjoy almost 48 hours of summertime but at the same time I was also very touched by the Holocaust Memorial which I visited twice – the second time was with our group and the first time, by accident, when I went for a run in the morning.
Chicago was much colder than Miami but people who we were talking to were very warm and willing to share with us their knowledge and experiences. It was interesting to hear about the AJC work connected with LGBTQ communities but also learn about some acts of intolerance in Chicago – both among radical right and radical left. In the end of the program I took a really long walk to experience Chicago but also to think about the whole study trip, walking along the Michigan Lake.
In the end it is important to emphasize how friendly and well-organized were our hosts. Alyssa Weiner and the rest of the AJC and FNF team did a wonderful job. “Promoting Tolerance” program was a great and useful experience for me. Moreover, it was an inspiration and I am sure it will be visible in my future work and public activities. I will also proudly add to my bio the fact that I am now the alumnus of the “Promoting Tolerance” program.
All pictures come from my Twitter account @MarekTatala under #PromotingTolerance hashtag.
Vice-President of "Civil Development Forum" (FOR)
Promoting Tolerance 2017 Alumnus