Sofía Méndez and Daniel Ekdesman left Rosario, the province of Santa Fe, for a 14 month tour of Latin America.
It was not an usual trip, but a social experiment, meant to demonstrate the theory that differences (social, cultural, religious, political etc.) only enrich human interactions and strengthen social integration.
Sofia and Daniel entitled their project MIRADAS (Looks) which was not a name chosen at random as in order to reach their objective they made use of astronomy.
One may wonder what links could exist between astronomy and social integration; MIRADAS experiment proved they are related, both macro and micro perspectives are understood if observation, reflection, comprehension and sharing are performed.
Equipped with telescopes, cameras, binoculars and other relevant items they carried throughout their journey, Sofia and Daniel stopped in one or two schools in every country they reached, and organised astronomy workshops for the local children. The workshops were organised with the active support of the local communities.
The workshops consisted of three parts: children were given the opportunity to observe the sky, spot constellations, planets or stars, starting from the furthest to the closest, notice similarities, differences, to reflect on the space they live in, where the community lives in, family etc., what we have in common and what differentiate us and so to understand their environment through the lens of the scientific experiment, and finally to express their feelings and findings in relation to their experience through art: poems, songs, plays, paintings.
15 countries visited, an impressive collection of videos and photos and extraordinary experiences and life time friends are the outcomes of MIRADAS; yet, even more important was the fact that the process of informal education (observation, exploration, enlargement of experience) facilitated by the astronomy workshops, managed to cultivate communities and relationships, challenge innate perceptions about the world, and provide new and enriching perspectives about the others.
Photo credit Miradas Project