Look Beyond Borders – 4 minutes experiment

When talking about the problem of refugees, we use dehumanised language, which reduces human tragedy to numbers and statistics. But this suffering concerns real people, who – just like us – have families, loved ones, friends; their own stories, dreams, goals… Only when you sit down opposite a specific person and look into their eyes, you no longer see an anonymous refugee, one of the migrants, and notice the human before you, just like yourself – loving, suffering, dreaming…

20 years ago, psychologist Arthur Aron discovered that 4 minutes of looking into each other’s eyes can bring people closer. Using this discovery, we decided to carry out a simple experiment, during which refugees and Europeans sat opposite each other and looked into each other’s eyes. Clearly, it is most important to give each other time to better understand and get to know each other.

The experiment was conducted in Berlin: the city, which – first of all – is a symbol of overcoming the divisions, and secondly, seems to be the centre of the contemporary Europe. We wanted the movie created on the basis of the experiment to be as symbolic as possible – and to touch upon the general divisions between people.

The experiment participants were ordinary people. The situations were not staged; we wanted to get natural, spontaneous reactions. The people sitting opposite each other had not known each other before and saw each other for the first time during the experiment. What is important, the refugees mostly came from Syria and had not been living in Europe for longer than a year.

Created by DDB Warsaw for Amnesty International Poland.

The importance of human connection

I’m reading ” Leaders eat last” of Simon Sinek. I love this book as I loved ‘Start with why’. Simon explains step Twelve in Alcoholics Anonymous. ‘There is a reason why AA meetings happen in church basements and recreational centers and not in online chat rooms. And there is a reason why when alcoholic wants to reach out to their sponsor, the other alcoholic committed to helping them, they don’t send an email, they pick up the phone and call. It’s because the connections required to beat addiction must be real. They cannot be virtual. ‘ 

In my paper about narrative medicine I wrote this part to finish with:
When we are “listened to” we experience a range of positive outcomes from feeling better about ourselves to improved immunological function and better psychological wellbeing (Bodie, 2012). When we feel misunderstood or otherwise ignored, however, our health and relationships suffer.

Anxiety can make people poor speakers. Stress and time pressure can make people poor listeners.
Our high-tech scans and fast-paced care save lives, but we need to make time for the human issues that pull at every persons heart.