We conducted an intercultural workshop here in Ba (Fiji) parish this past weekend. About 50 people attended, mainly indigenous Fijians and ethnic Indians. Scripture input was followed by mixed group discussions. Role plays about each community’s history were performed. The self-stereotype and other-stereotype was elicited for each ethnic group. A reconciliation ritual was performed towards the end. Prayer and Mass together strengthened unity in diversity.
A young married teacher agreed to perform a role play about conflict. I took the role as priest and he a parishioner. He was to challenge the priest’s demands. The interaction would include lack of listening, bringing up old hurts, becoming personal and other elements of a clash. The role play was building to a climax when we noticed that his wife in the audience had begun to cry profusely. We stopped and asked her what was wrong. “I knew he would do something like this,” she blurted, “I know that he never gives in.” She hadn’t realized that it was a role play. She had thought it was for real!
Maybe it triggered a reality of their married life because afterwards they came for marriage counselling. The sessions went well. The wife said after one session, “We come here each evening thinking that we will be talking about a particular topic. But each session takes its own course, we can never predict where it will go.” They are still happily married, thank God.
Columban Fr. Frank Hoare lives and works in Fiji.