Ilona Sābera – portfolio

blogging, journalism, semiotics, short stories


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Anna Lindh Forum: A Need for Cross Cultural Approach to Ensure Diversity

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Father Paolo dall’Oglio speaking at the Anna Lindh Forum in Marseille in April 2013. Foto: Anna Lindh Foundation

Published on Anna Lindh Forum
Highlights of the 3rd day include: Strategic debate on Diversity, discussions on ethical cross cultural reporting, a debate of Young Arab Voices representatives with president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz.

Promoting Diversity in the Euro-Med

How to value diversity and share universal values? was the main question of one of the strategic debates that took place on Saturday morning, marking the general line of the third day of the Forum. Father Paolo dall’Oglio, Italian Jesuit priest exiled from Syria by the Assad’s regime, reminded about the ongoing conflict in the country: “Population of Syria have been abandoned by the knowledgeable so called international community. Now it is in a chance to express for the Academy.” He also underlined the necessity to show more support for Syria from civil society organisations by developing initiatives on a common ground, criticising one scale approach for different values: “Our idea or your idea for the civil society must be linked. Society is only healthy when it is like western society. We look for people who look like us. We choose our partners that look like us. I really encourage your society to be a fertile society. Destructive differences can exist not only on different shores of the Mediterranean, but also in the same religious community.

“My country suffers from fundamentalism in all three religions. Can we all be equals? Religion does not represent our identity, we should define a common ground for the identity. When the power embraces religion, there is no diversity.” pointed out Asmae Al Ghoul, Palestinian blogger and women rights activist. “Anthropological changes during centuries have not been properly accepted by my religious community. My concern is how can we reconcile ourselves with this anthropological revolution?” added father Paolo.  Continue reading
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Gallup survey: increased interest in Euro-Med and youth main resource for change

Foto: Anna Lindh Foundation

Debate at the Anna Lindh Forum in Marseille, April 2013. Foto: Anna Lindh Foundation

Published on Anna Lindh Forum

Highlights of the 2nd day include: Strategic debate on Mediterranean 2020 based on findings of the Anna Lindh Foundation/Gallup Survey on Intercultural Trends, cooperation models between North and South journalists discussed in Agora workshop on media and artistic events.

Mediterranean 2010: perceptions and challenges

One of the key moments of the second day of the Anna Lindh Forum was Agora strategic debate ‘Mediterranean 2020: Society and Values’ that tackled the current perceptions and attitudes of the citizens from South and North part of the Euro-Med region and the main challenges for current and future cooperation. The debate also suggested a couple of main ideas, highlighting the role of youth as the main resource for future change and development in the Arab region despite being caught in the economic decline following political instability; and the need to change the current economic model for a sustainable future. Continue reading


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Getting out of your comfort zone

Sharing our stories

I am going to tell you my story that brought me here, because I believe that we can build a common European future just starting from a personal level. So to share Europe, first we must share our stories.

Discovering people and places

Latvia’s territory is bigger than Belgium, but we are just 2 million people. So after knowing everybody in my country, I decided that I need to travel. I wanted to expand my worldview and just followed opportunities. Soon I realized that far more important than seeing monuments in European capitals is exploring personalities and lifestyles of people living there. And thanks to a really wonderful people I met on my way, I got inspired to move on. Actually it started when I was 15 and I took part in European Commission’s Youth Exchange programme were I spent unforgettable 9 days in Lithuanian countryside with the best people I could imagine. It was quite tough, we had to take a shower in the nearest sauna and cooked our dinner on the fire, but still I met so nice and funny Italian group that inspired me to start learning Italian. And finally after 5 years I fulfilled my dream and went to Erasmus to Italy and latter I continued my masters studies there. Continue reading


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Videos for European Commission’s DG of Interpreation

Visitors to the 2012 Job Day talk about their experiences of trying out interpreting in our practice booths.

What are the social and health benefits of learning languages and how can speaking several languages make life more interesting? We interviewed Itesh Sachdev, professor of Language and Communication at SOAS University of London. His research focusses on the benefits of multilingualism.


Did you know about the complexities of multilingualism in Malta? English, Maltese and even Italian are all used to communicate with other islanders. There have been significant changes in the status of the Maltese language since Malta joined the EU: “We didn’t have a culture of translation. The fact that Maltese is an official language [of the EU] has created something which actually didn’t happen before. I think it has given Maltese more status in peoples’ minds. It is no longer the language of the poor and uneducated. I think the ideal for a country like Malta, which is tiny, is that our heritage should be a heritage of bilingualism. We should be giving our children a possibility of growing up with a minimum of two languages, which for us was always a reality,” explains Dr Sandra Vella, senior lecturer at the Institute of Linguistics, University of Malta. To find out more, watch our interview with Dr Vella and Professor Ray Fabri, Chairman of the Institute of Linguistics at the University of Malta.

Arabic might not be an easy language to learn, but it can lead to many opportunities in the West and the East. It is one of the official languages of the United Nations and has 295 million native speakers worldwide. In Europe there is an interest in learning more about Islamic culture and tradition; learning Arabic is an integral part of this. “Language can open paths for understanding and for dialogue between world’s civilizations” comments Dr Imran Alawiye, the author of ‘Gateway to Arabic’, a series of textbooks for teachers and students.


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Searching for the meaning

Being a semiotician makes me wonder about the meaning which is revealed in our actions, practices, relations and texts. What creates the common sense and what are the social dynamics of meaning making process? What is the broader meaning of the logic of a culture? These are the questions which attracted me in semiotics, but even if I found some instruments to apply in this personal research, I still want to go deeper, learning other approaches and exploring additional answers to my inquiries. Continue reading


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Searching for a dialogue in a desert: hospitality of the Christian community at Mar Musa

Published on EMAJ Magazine

After a lonely and silent climb up the desert mountain, you enter an isolated microuniverse. A group of young people are clearing the table, others are cutting vegetables. Suddenly you are at the table, refreshed after a climb with some water, Syrian bread, tea and goat cheese are brought to the table by a volunteer of unknown nationality. Everyone here takes part in a system which hinges on solidarity.

The ancient monastery Dier Mar Musa el-Habashi of the Syrian Catholic church is located 80km from Damascus and 1320m above sea level. The uniqueness of this place  is due to in its hospitality: open to every visitor, from day trippers who come  to see the 12th and 13 century frescoes to the authentic spiritual pilgrims. Continue reading