My most recent visits were to Pakistan and Finland, two countries that on the surface have very few in common, if any, in terms of continent, climate, people, culture, population, economy, politics, stability... you name it. And my conviction was once again confirmed that it is absolutely a necessity to see a country with your own eyes and get firsthand knowledge to be able to see beyond what you have through other means.
The Fountain presentation on media and values was conducted in four universities with great interest and participation. Students and faculties actively joined the discussion with invigorating questions on the universal themes and values The Fountain cherishes. Despite what the Western mind would expect of Pakistan, interestingly, the female ratio in the academia is visibly very high and their voice is no less strong than their counterparts in the West.
Finland has its own texture and character by all means. Although it was mid-April, there were still pockets of muddy snow especially in the northern-facing shades of the landscape and buildings. Hardly anyone in the streets was around, even at the airport terminal, with the exception of those enjoying the spring sun during their lunch break.
However different any given country might be from another, culture of coexistence is inevitably a common theme in both regardless of continent or culture. The Minister of Culture and Sports, Paavo Arhinmäki, who opened the conference organized by Finland Dialog Association and The Fountain in Helsinki on April 24, said "Encountering ethnic and cultural diversity is no longer the experience of just a few. It has become an everyday reality for many more people worldwide. Interactive skills and conflict resolution must become part of everyone's civil preparedness. The desire to participate and act only becomes greater through personal involvement."
This quote summarizes the universality of our need for greater awareness of peaceful coexistence and proves that our differences are a richness of diversity. Hence, this is one of the many reasons why The Fountain is actively engaged in different continents and societies and what we try to reflect in the contents. In the same vein, this issue covers themes that are universally relevant, like What It Means to Be Human, food safety, environment, bad memory, and senior citizens. This issue also offers thought-provoking articles on natural sciences, appreciating the compatibility of the type of food animals consume with their digestion system, the perfect physical make-up of birds, and the very interesting balance in the world that is bound with its rotation. Challenges in the gifted education are also separately discussed.
For those of you in the northern hemisphere, we wish you a good summer, and a reasonable winter for those of you in the south.