mariam-and-I Tandem 360°: Connecting all the Pillars Hiba Zibaoui from Ishbilia for Arts Association in Sidon, Lebanon, shares thoughts on her Tandem journey so far. Hiba is working in Tandem with Mariam Omar from Greenish in Cairo, Egypt. Hello my name is Hiba-هبة. I’m an artistic director from Lebanon and a participant in Tandem 360°- Roud 2 programme. I’m here to share my thoughts, insights, and reflections about my Tandem experience so far. Tandem 360°: Rethinking the Role of Culture At the beginning of the programme, I was somehow reluctant and hesitant about my participation because the meetings were all planned for long hours virtually. Thankfully, I decided to give myself a chance and go with the flow. The programme was extremely rich and dense, it allowed me to meet 16 people from different walks of life and nationalities and exchange different concepts, ideas, tools, and frameworks in an interactive, fun, and safe medium. As a cultural director, the programme inspired me and evoked different internal and external ideas and questions about the role of the cultural sector. Why I do what I do and what can we as cultural activists give to ourselves and our communities. It reminded me of the joy of working with new people and that culture is a cross beam that connects communities and all the other pillars together. Tandeming: Courage while Building the Unknown The online journey has resulted in forming partnerships and tandems from seven Arab countries. For me, the journey has led me to partner with Mariam from Greenish, an environmental enterprise in Egypt. Mariam and I went through different stages of exploring and developing our project together, especially that we come from different fields. However, despite the challenges of merging our sectors, experiences, and expertise together, we were both certain that we want to make the best out of this experience and gain new knowledge, skills on personal and professional levels. After several brainstorming sessions, we have decided to work on a project that aims to discover the environmental and social patterns that happened in two Mediterranean and historical cities; Saida ( Lebanon) and Alexandria ( Egypt) in the last 40 years through different artistic mediums. Sea Diaries Workshop: Shaping Collective Narratives through Stories To explore this, we have launched an open call for participants from both cities to participate in a storytelling workshop, where they will be sharing personal stories about their relationship with their city, and in particular with the sea. After three online sessions, the participants from both cities have managed to know each other and explore each other’s stories and cities. The sessions have resulted in 12 written and recorded stories from both cities, which had significant similarities and common patterns, especially regarding the participants’ relationship with the sea and how it did change and became more confined and complex over the years. The workshop was an eye-opening experience for all of those who were involved in it. We rediscovered our cities imagined how we wanted them to be like. The workshop has reactivated memories, spaces and shaped collective narratives. Mariam’s Placement in Lebanon: Unending conversations and Unstoppable laughs Mariam and I have finally met outside the screen, in Lebanon streets and alleys, where I have discovered a person with a high sense of humour and integrity. Mariam is a cat savior, nature lover, and a dedicated person aiming to create a better world for her community. During Mariam’s stay, we shared conversations about life, work, mental health, and personal future plans. We discussed sociopolitical and environment challenges in our countries. We visited historical cities in Lebanon, met local communities of environmental experts, architects, and artists. Day after day, Mariam had the chance to discover the heart of the country and the spirit of its people. We spent a great time together making sure that we gave each other the freedom and space to discover and reflect on our work and journey, each in our own way. Where the Route will Take Us? We are now close to the implementation phase, but we are still discovering different aspects and means of our partnerships. We are still processing all aspects we encountered during our time together in Lebanon and building upon them. Keep visiting Tandem’s website to stay updated about our project.