Photo by Constanze Flamme
Photo by Constanze Flamme

A day at the beach

After the Partner Forum of Tandem Shaml in mid-September the two Project Managers Hatem and Reem sat on the beach and reflected on the meeting. The Partner Forum is the first meeting of each programme round, where cultural managers meet, get to know each other and start developing collaborations in a Tandem. Hatem is the Project Manager of Tandem Shaml for almost two years now, for Reem it was the first Tandem meeting. In a cross- interview they share their impressions of the last few days, the energy of the group and the situation in Beirut.

Hatem asks Reem

This was your first Tandem meeting: 3 words: how was it?

Energetic, diverse and rich!

Remember the day before the Partner Forum: What were you most looking forward to?

I wanted to see how it really happens! On the spot! Because, I have been expecting this for more than two months now.

How was it for you to have all participants come to Beirut, the city where you live?

(laughs) It was beautiful to show them around, especially this moment in Beirut. It is a very strong moment that people who live here are experiencing. We have a civic movement happening in the streets. Actually, the first day when we wanted to start with the first talk (and this was my unexpected moment), we had the protests really passing by under the venue. And we did not know what it was exactly: Was it a peaceful protest? Was it going to degenerate? But then everything came together, so that the group could really know and feel what the impact of the city and what is actually happening on the ground. And have a chance to experience the energy of the city, which is really at its strongest moment right now.

Looking back at the Forum, what is the one moment that will stick with you?

(thinks…) I think the day were everybody was really sick and tired, but they came and were all fighting to be present. Even though some of them were lying on the Sofa, but the will of being here and sharing those moments, was still there.

Reem asks Hatem

Close your eyes. Relax. Take a deep breath. Now think back a few days. Think about the moment when you met the new group together. Put yourself back in the moment. What did you hear? What did you smell? What did you see? How did you feel?

So the first thing I heard, were a lot of different languages: English, French, Arabic, all in different dialects. And, I remember me and Dalia were talking… And I saw many different colours, in the eyes of everyone: Excitement, Fatigue as many people had just arrived in Beirut on that day.
Then we just walked together. I took half of the group and then we just walked to the venue. And what did I smell… nothing really, I have a nose problem! ;)
And what did I feel? Well I was very excited, I was trying to anticipate how the energy will go, what will happen, trying to remember all the agenda, and I was a bit checking the time, because we were just a bit behind in the schedule, but … it all went fine.

Compared to last round how did the Partner Forum go? What was different? What was the same?

It was completely different! First of all because of the energy of the venue itself. Last time we were at a hotel and there were a lot of fancy meeting and conference rooms, so the energy was not the same. Also, until now we always had participants from the ABARA programme and this new group is different, because it is more diverse. And in general the energy level was much higher, even though we had people who were sick, we had power cuts, internet cuts, toilets that were not working, but yet the group kept really going on in a very good way. So I think the energy was really, really high.

For you, what was the most unexpected moment at the Partner Forum?

Hmm…This is really difficult for me. I guess there were not really any unexpected moments for me. I mean as always there were some surprises in the matching and partner finding processes, but I mean in general, it more or less went all very much as planned.

When you go back home: What do you tell Ann (his 5 year old daughter) about Beirut?

Ahh … (laughs)…The sea! Of course the sea! That I managed to come to the sea and swam twice!!