International Cultural Diversity Organization

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International Cultural Diversity Organization
NicknameICDO
Formation2017
Founder
  • Josipa Palac
  • Toni Pehar
Founded atVienna, Austria
TypeNon-governmental organization
PurposeTo safeguard and promote cultural diversity through research, workshops, panel discussions, art exhibitions, events and social and development projects
Key people
  • Josipa Palac (President and CEO)
  • Toni Pehar (Treasurer and CFO)
  • Prof. Mag. Dr. Hermann Mückler (Adviser to the Executive Committee)
  • Dr. Anthony Löwstedt (Adviser to the Executive Committee)
  • Dr. Srgjan Kerim (Adviser to the Executive Committee)
  • Iva Pehar (Art Director)
  • Monika Zarucka (Public Information & Communications Director)
  • Evgeny Denisov (Communications and Multimedia Specialist)
  • Lizette Navarro (Project Management Specialist)
  • Isidora Colic (Project & Media Communication Manager)
Websitewww.icdo.at

The International Cultural Diversity Organization (ICDO) is a non-governmental organization established in 2017 in Vienna, Austria. ICDO’s goal is to safeguard and promote cultural diversity through research, workshops, panel discussions, art exhibitions, events and social and development projects. The ICDO team includes multicultural and multidisciplinary experts from various fields that use their expertise to fulfill ICDO’s mission and goals to shape a future where different groups of people are able to embrace each other’s cultural differences.

Mission

ICDO’s mission is to take action, promote diversity and interculturality and to raise awareness of different cultural expressions and their values to encourage the development of cultural interaction. Among the actions developed, implemented and/or supported by ICDO are: panel discussions, cultural events, art exhibitions, educational workshops, training platforms, social development projects, research, production related to cultural diversity, public policies monitoring, as well as the engagement of decision-makers and the general public.

Organizational Structure

Executive Committee

The organization is led by ICDO’s President Josipa Palac[1] and by treasurer Toni Pehar.[2] Josipa Palac holds a Master’s degree in Cultural Differences and Transnational Processes from the University of Vienna. Prior to founding ICDO, Josipa Palac held multiple positions at the United Nations in Vienna and did anthropological field research in Austria, Egypt and Cyprus. Josipa Palac is a recipient of Bronwyn K. Mitterecker Alumni Award 2019[3], presented by Webster University. The award recognizes the impact and service of an alum or alumna to the betterment of society.

Apart from his voluntary work at ICDO, Toni Pehar runs a financial consulting firm. Prior to his engagement with ICDO, Toni Pehar held a managing position at an international oil and gas company, being responsible for operations in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Advisors

ICDO is guided in its mission by accomplished professionals in the humanities. One of them is Hermann Mückler, a professor of social and cultural anthropology at the University of Vienna and President of the Austrian-Foreigner Societies (PaN). The other is Anthony Löwstedt, a professor and researcher at Webster Vienna Private University’s Media Communications Department. Srgjan Kerim, a Macedonian politician who served as President of the United Nations General Assembly from 18 September 2007 to 16 September 2008, also serves an advisory role at ICDO.

Global Development Team

A team of specialists hold permanent positions at ICDO and help develop and organize its projects.

Interns

ICDO offers recent graduates and others seeking work experience the possibility of working in a multicultural environment and learning a variety of media-related skills.

ICDO Ambassadors

To help spread the message of diversity and inclusion, ICDO partners with international celebrities and social media influencers, such as:

  • Cristèl Carrisi, singer and daughter of Al Bano and Romina Power;
  • Alberto Nodale, Mister Austria 2017;
  • Ana Girault, Miss World Mexico 2016;
  • Farid Diek, a Mexcian social entrepreneur with over 4 million followers;
  • Jessica Fernández Garcia, a Mexican social entrepreneur and feminist activist.

Cristèl Carrisi

Cristèl Carrisi has worked in the entertainment industry since her teenage years. Because of her popularity as a daughter of artists, she has been a guest on numerous Italian television shows. In 2013 she was sent to the UNHCR Mission program, together with her father and sister Romina junior Jolanda, in the refugee camps for UNHCR’s political refugees in Jordan. She also persuaded a career as an entrepreneur in the fashion industry. Having recorded and released two musical albums, Cristel is currently involved in writing and hosting various television shows for the Italian networks Rai and Mediaset. Recently, she gave a speech on TedX Zagreb.

Alberto Nodale

Alberto Nodale[4] is Mr. Austria 2017[5]. He graduated from high school in Vienna (Austria), where he also grew up. He then moved to Wieselburg to study at the campus Wieselburg of the University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt. There Nodale completed his bachelor and master studies. He has always had an interest in entrepreneurship, reading related books as a teenager. Together with a fellow student, Alberto founded “Frische Fritzen” in Wieselburg, district of Scheibbs, a company that produces organic cereals. The founders were awarded the third place of the RIZ Innovation Prize[6], the first place in the “i2b Business Plan Competition[7]” and the “Creative in the Future” award. He also made his way to Silicon Valley, U.S.A, working at the startup Close.io[8].

Ana Girault

Ana Girault was born and raised in Mexico. From a young age curiosity led her to explore the modeling world and the diversity within it. She studied BA in Communications at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. For a period of her life she lived in two multicultural cities in the USA: NYC and Miami. In 2016 she was awarded with the title Miss Mexico[9] and with the opportunity and responsibility to work with many non-profit organizations her passion to do more ignited.

Farid Dieck

Farid Dieck[10] is a content creator and social entrepreneur from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. He initiated several social projects seeking to have a positive impact on society, being the most successful, the ECO brand, dedicated to producing shoes made of PET plastic and recycled tires. Currently Farid has more than 4 million followers on the social media platforms, and has appeared in more than 12 countries in America and Europe transmitting their message that has positively impacted.

Jessica Fernández

Jessica Fernández[11] is a social entrepreneur, content creator, feminist activist, a 23-year-old speaker who is considered today; one of the 50 more women ITESM influencers nationwide. Jessica has been a volunteer and missionary in different parts of Mexico and Africa. She is founder of Give Hope[12] a project that supports an orphanage in Kenya, Africa. She shares positive content about feminism, empowerment and self-love inviting people to be the change they want to see in society, impacting more than 185,000 followers. She has also given lectures around Mexico and the United States, where she discussed her experiences in social entrepreneurship and reflected on the use of social networks and women empowerment.

Projects and Initiatives

ICDO is constantly working to find new and innovative ways to achieve its mission of helping and enhancing human society. Its projects incorporate the Sustainable Development Goals and are funded by various donors and institutions. In its projects ICDO implements ICDO’s Cultural Diversity Handbook, an important tool and guide to understanding, developing and promoting cultural diversity and its expressions.

Cultural Speed Dating and Mashup

On March 28 in 2017, ICDO hosted its first cross-cultural workshop, the “Cultural Speed Dating & Mashup”,[13] designed to encourage cultural interaction among migrants. The event took place at Webster Vienna Private University’s campus.

Music and Beyond

During the Suoni Dal Golfo Music Festival in Lerici, Italy, which took place from 25 August to 9 September 2017, ICDO hosted a cultural program and workshops, titled Music and Beyond, which provided space for over 70 attending musicians and other participants to discuss cultural, social, and political topics. This project was under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture of Italy (MiBAC), Municipality of Lerici (Comune Lerici[14]) and the Mayor of Lerici, Mr. Leonardo Paoletti Sindaco. The event brought together representatives of Liguria and Lega Navale, parliament members, as well as representatives of the international press.

In Villa Marigola,[15] ICDO organized “Cultural & Musical Mashup” workshops and conducted a series of interviews with musicians, including Maxim Novikov[16] Polina Osetinskaya,[17] Georgs Pelecis, Pavel Karmanov, Aivar Kalejs, Leonid Dsyatnikov, Roberto Di Marino and Arshia Samsaminia.

ICDO’s Music, Diversity, and Diplomacy Symposium[18] at Castle of Lerici was organized in cooperation with Orchestra Excellence’s founders Gianluca Marcianò[19] and Max Novikov, EMMA for Peace founder Paolo Petrocelli[20], and ICDO Ambassador Cristel Carrisi to promote cultural diversity through music. The symposium was moderated by Alfredo Macchi, a Mediaset journalist, and featured, alongside organizers, the panelists Ed Vulliamy, a journalist from The Guardian; Dr. Anthony Lowstedt, a media expert and professor at Webster University; and Josipa Palac, President of ICDO.

The festival provided a discussion platform for over 70 exceptional young soloists around the globe, including violinist Alissa Margulis, cellist Alexander Buzlov (3rd Prize at the Tchaikovsky Competition) as well as pianists Vitali Pisarenko (1st Prize at the International Liszt Competition in Utrecht), Gloria Campaner, Oliver Poole and Polina Osetinskaya.

The festival was covered by international media, including RAI, BBC Music Magazine, Russia Today, The Times, Classic FM, HRT.

The Long Nights of Interculturality

The Long Nights of Interculturality is a yearly event hosted by ICDO since 2018 that celebrates cultural diversity and inclusion in Vienna, Austria. It is under the patronage of UNESCO. Artists, musicians, diplomats, speakers and experts in various fields from all over the world are invited to present their cultures in various public venues in Vienna.

The Long Night of Intercultural Dialogue

On 8 September 2018, ICDO hosted its first major intercultural event in Vienna, Austria, which lasted the entire day. The Long Night of Intercultural Dialogue[21] began at the Vienna City Hall with a costume show, musical and dance performances, and a symposium titled “Collaborating Minds: Diversity’s Role in a Modern Society”, which was held by various speakers, including anthropologist Hermann Mückler, professor Anthony Löwstedt, writer Rubina Möhring, consultant and ARTUS partner Tomislav Stipic, and curator Anne-Marie Avramut. The symposium was moderated by Jürgen Peind.[22] The event participants then proceeded to the Altes Rathaus, Vienna for a live piano performance by Jovana Misaljevic and a vocal performance by Kim Kooper. This was followed by a panel discussion, titled 'Living the Diversity: Witnessing the Change', that featured Rania Mustafa[23] a Syrian refugee turned journalist, and Suad Mohamed, a Somalian consultant at the Austrian Red Cross. The discussion was moderated by Alberto Nodale, Mister Austria 2017. The event continued at the Yunus Emre Institute with an art exhibition, “Perspectives. Diversity. Art”[24], which featured works by international artists such as Andrey Ostashov,[25] Mariella Habsburg,[26] and Leyla Mahat, as well as artists from organizations such as the Austrian Latin America Institute, VIC Art Club, and the Eurasian Academy of Arts. ICDO also cooperated with Chocolate Museum Vienna,[27] which offered a lecture about the cultural history of chocolate and workshops, where participants could create and taste their own chocolate. The Long Night of Intercultural Dialogue came to a close with a Gala Dinner at Palais Wertheim, where Austrian human rights lawyer Manfred Nowak was awarded the ICDO Excellence Award[28].

The Long Nights of Interculturality 2019

From 1 to 6 September 2019, ICDO hosted the Long Nights of Interculturality 2019[29]. It attracted over 300 international participants, prominent artists, and ambassadors, as well as more than 2000 visitors. The event was backed by numerous sponsors and partners, including Bank Austria, Stadt Wien, and the KOSMO magazine.

The event began with an opening ceremony featuring dancing performances in traditional costumes at the Vienna City Hall, which attracted participants from over 30 different countries[30]. Many prominent diplomatic guests were in attendance (Philippines, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Egypt, Mexico, Morocco, Colombia, Azerbaijan, Ireland, Peru, Burkina Faso and India), including Ida Bagus Rai Mantra, the mayor of Denpasar. The next day, Elvin Nabizade’s[31] contemporary art installation ‘Lost Land’ and performances by the Azerbaijan State Song and Dance Ensemble took place at the Azerbaijan Cultural Center in Vienna.[32][33] This was followed by the “Art Speaks Diversity” exhibition at the Yunus Emre Institute, which, among others, was attended by Maria Cleofe Natividad,[34] Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Philippine Embassy and Permanent Mission; Ümit Yardım, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey; Lourdes Gisela Antonia Victoria-Kruse,[35] Ambassador of the Dominican Republic; Maria Helena Botero, Cultural Consultant at Colombian Embassy; Raymond Nader, Chairman of Committee at VIC Art Club; Jerson Jimenez,[36] a Dominican artist; and Norlito Meimban,[37] a Philippino artist. The exhibition was curated by Josipa Palac and Joanna Mann. Later, a panel discussion “Women in Leadership Positions; Inclusion and Diversity in Society”[38] was held at the Altes Rathaus, Vienna, which featured speakers such as Nargiz Gurbanova,[39] the first female ambassador of Azerbaijan, Kelly Ann Anderson,[40] Political Counsellor at the Embassy of Canada to Austria; Martin Dexborg, OSCE Advisor on Gender Issues; Ursula Struppe,[41] Head of MA 17 – Integration and Diversity in City of Vienna; and Louise Deininger,[42] founder of GYCO (Global Youth Conference). The event continued with a fundraising Gala Dinner at Palais Wertheim, where Jaime Castle, President of Obagi Medical, was awarded the ICDO Excellence Award.[43][44] Finally, the closing ceremony at the Wiener Börse featured ICDO's 'Costumes of the World[45] show of 160 national costumes from 60 different cultures, national cuisine stands organized by partnering embassies, and concluded with a performance by violinist Momir Mosa Sisic and his band.

3rd "BRIDGE for Cities"

On 10 October 2018, ICDO participated as an Activity-Level Partner in the "3rd “BRIDGE for Cities”[46] event organized by UNIDO and the Finance Center for South-South Cooperation,[47] where it organized dance performances in traditional costumes. The event focused on urban-industrial development, taking on the green industry and sustainable development as its central themes. It showcased concrete examples of urban-industrial solutions with 4 case studies in the cities of Chengdu, Shanghai, Trieste, and Vienna.

Bridging Diversity: Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bridging Diversity: Bosnia and Herzegovina is a recurring project conducted by ICDO in various cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina that aims to promote the diversity of cultural expressions and creativity in this politically, religiously, and culturally divided country to ensure a mutual and sustainable basis for its future. The project engages the three constituent peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats) and involves more than 100 participants: high school students in Jablanica, Trebinje, and Grude; university students of ‘The Academy of Fine Arts’ in Siroki Brijeg; educational professionals, academics and stakeholders.

The central goal of the project is to encourage young people from the three constituent ethnicities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to participate in intercultural dialogue through cultural workshops, meetings with external speakers, the arts (including music, film, and concerts) and through the establishment of media communication channels. The project’s phases encompass different activities focusing on the following key areas: local engagement, social innovation, creativity and youth development. The project was launched in 2018 and has been implemented in the towns of Trebinje and Grude; and in the UN Office at Vienna.[48] The first round of the project (2018-2019) included the phases listed below.

Bridging Diversity: Education and Students’ Voices

During this phase, ICDO organized cultural and educational workshops and training on cultural diversity in Trebinje, providing participants with a platform to work towards resolving their social, economic, and political challenges. During these workshops, ICDO established a dialogue between the Serb, Croat, and Bosniak students. The participants developed a sensitivity towards other cultural expressions and individuals. They became aware of common social issues by learning about global topics, human rights and responsibility. They also developed their negotiation, diplomacy, team building and strategic skills. Their communication skills were further enhanced by practicing English and by expanding their knowledge of media literacy.

Bridging Diversity: Symposium and Field Trips

In this phase ICDO hosted a panel discussion involving local, national, and international academic perspectives on cultural diversity in Grude. The symposium combined topics on education, politics, academia, and media. It featured Ružica Mikulić, Deputy Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Sports in West Herzegovina; anthropologist Hermann Mückler; media expert Anthony Löwstedt; and Dean Emeritus of the University of Mostar Božo Žepić. Students from the Academy of Fine Arts Široki Brijeg participating in Bridging Diversity: Art & Expression, as well as the academy’s Dean Stjepan Skoko, were also present. The discussion was moderated by Veselko Cerkez,[49] Head of the Office of the President of the Government of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton, and hosted by Mladen Leko, director of Srednja škola Antuna Branka Šimića in Grude.

The discussion between the speakers and the public following the panel discussion revealed a significant difference in how the younger generation and the older generation perceive the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in what they expect from the future.[50]

After the symposium project participants were taken on field trips to two large international companies situated in Grude: Violeta[51] and Grafotisak[52]. These trips were done to show the participants the potential for growth and prosperity within their own country.

Bridging Diversity: Art & Expression

Following an art and essay competition organized by ICDO at the early stages of the project, the winning project participants presented their art and essays on multiculturalism at the UN Office at Vienna.[53] The project participants illustrated their ideas on cultural expression, diversity, celebration, diplomacy, balance, and coexistence. This was an opportunity for the young artists and writers to express their ideas about the future of their country in front of a global audience. This was an opportunity for young artists and writers from all participating high schools, as well as from the Academy of Fine Arts Široki Brijeg[54] to express their ideas about the future of their country in front of a global audience. The art exhibition and essay presentations were attended by representatives from the embassies of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia; the directors of the participating schools from Jablanica and Grude – Sabina Palic and Mladen Leko; and Stjepan Skoko, Dean of the Academy of Fine Arts Široki Brijeg.[55] [56]

SKINCLUSION

In 2019, ICDO announced its partnership with Obagi Medical[57] and Project Implicit[58] to support the global SKINCLUSION[59] initiative with actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas as initiative Global Ambassador.[60][61] [62] SKINCLUSION is an initiative designed to encourage a global discussion about diversity and inclusion.[63] On 8 May 2019, the SKINCLUSION Initiative was officially launched in New York City with a panel discussion focusing on two of the core values of ICDO‘s mission: cultural diversity and acceptance.[64] [65] The panel included Jaime Castle, President of Obagi Medical; Priyanka Chopra Jonas, the Global Ambassador of the initiative; Josipa Palac, President of ICDO; Elizabeth Haines, a researcher in the field of unconscious biases; and Jeanine B. Downie, a specialist in dermatology.[66] The SKINCLUSION initiative highlights the importance of inclusivity and cultural diversity. ICDO fulfilled its part by sharing its cultural expertise gained from conducting global intercultural projects.[67][68]

The Black Line: Sacred Landscapes from La Sierra Nevada Santa Marta

On 16 November, 2019, ICDO, in cooperation with the Embassy of Colombia, the Ambassador of Colombia Miguel Camilo Ruiz Blanco and Weltmuseum Wien, hosted a talk and photo exhibition "The Black Line – Sacred landscapes from La Sierra Nevada Santa Marta – Colombia“ presenting message of indigenous peoples from la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, their cosmology, and their philosophy of life.[69] The photo exhibition “The Black Line” was courtesy of Colombian photographer Coque Gamboa, who also gave a speech about the indigenous peoples of La Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and participated in the panel discussion.[70] Panel discussion included ICDO President Josipa Palac, German photographer Andrea Altemüller, Austrian photographer and filmmaker Katharina Heigl. The discussion was moderated by Claudia Augustat, curator of the South America collections at Weltmuseum Wien, Vienna.

Kalan Je La'an: Following the Maya Voice

Kalan Je La'an: Following the Maya Voice is a 4-year-long project, which kicked off in January 2020 in Quintana Roo, Mexico. It aims to provide a platform where Maya heritage, values, traditions, language and culture can be broadcast locally, nationally and globally, bringing attention to these underrepresented communities through set of different innovative tools.

ICDO explored different avenues for promoting Maya communities and their culture with three main goals in mind: (1) to safeguard the Maya culture, language and traditions; (2) to raise awareness of and empower the Maya people and communities; and (3) to establish and implement sustainable strategies for the preservation of biodiversity. In addition, project goals are to change national and international public opinion, to encourage a change inside and outside indigenous Maya communities, to emphasize the importance of the inclusion of the Maya language in the Mexican education system, to empower women and youth, and to provide a platform where Maya people can broadcast their messages, needs, and concerns independently.

ICDO conducts the following activities in the region: art exhibitions, art workshops, research, data collection, monitoring, implementation of sustainable strategies, as well as education and communication platforms. The project incorporates programs focused on environmental sustainability and the preservation of Maya culture, language and heritage.

The First Phase of 'Kalan Je La'an: Following the Maya Voice'

During the first phase of the project in January 2020, ICDO sparked a dialogue on the difficulties faced by indigenous Maya communities through art workshops, an art exhibition, and a Gala Dinner that gathered social media influencers and others willing to help the cause. ICDO also conducted interviews with 100 Maya individuals from more than 20 different communities in Quintana Roo, Mexico.

On January 14, ICDO President Josipa Palac and ICDO CFO Toni Pehar officially inaugurated the first phase of the project and cooperation between ICDO and the Solidaridad Municipality in front of Portal Maya in Playa del Carmen with President of Solidaridad Municipality Laura Beristain Navarrete.

ICDO and Universidad Intercultural Maya de Quintana Roo (UIMQRoo) in Jose Maria Morelos signed an agreement for educational cooperation and research among its members, with the aim of achieving a successful and sustainable collaborative work in the project. The project is implemented in the UIMQRoo curriculum.

In a series of art workshops, 34 young and talented Maya from 16 different communities participated in creating an art installation, along with the help of ICDO Art Director Iva Pehar, from raw materials found in the immediate region. It represented the symbiosis of traditional and contemporary art.

The art installation was presented on 24 January in Teatro De La Ciudad Solidaridad, Playa del Carmen, supported by the Solidaridad municipality and its President, Laura Beristain Navarrete.[71] The event was opened by welcoming speeches of : Luis Ernesto Lopez, Director of Instituto Municipal de la Cultura y las Artes de Solidaridad; Deyanira Martinez Estrada, Director of Social Development Department of Solidaridad Municipality; Quetzal Tzab, Solidaridad Municipality Director for Indigenous Communities Issues; and Walter Mezeta representative of Universidad Intercultural Maya de Quintana Roo (UIMQRoo). The event concluded with a musical performance in the Maya language by the Tihorappers Crew and Pat Boy.[72]

During the project, the ICDO team visited six communities: Jose Maria Morelos, El Naranjal, Tihosuco, La Presumida, Huay Max and Sacalaca to interview Maya people of all ages and genders.

The first phase of the project concluded with a Gala Dinner at Casa Xixim, gathering projects supporters, including ICDO’s Honorary Ambassadors Farid Dieck Kattas and Jessica Fernandez Garcia, photographer Ximena del Valle, Representative of Tulum Municipality Erika Moreno Calderon, Representatives of Solidaridad Municipality Alfredo Paz Cetina and Juan Carlos Beristain Navarrete, Director for Indigenous Communities Issues Quetzal Tzab Gonzalez, and Representative of Uxuxubí Community Miguel Angel Pani Can.

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